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Tillabooks: Will's Book Blog

Sunday, March 12, 2006

A Thread of Grace by Mary Doria Russell

A Thread of Grace by Mary Doria Russell. New York: Random House, 2005. ISBN: 0-375-50184-3

I picked up and read this book for one reason only: the author's two previous books, religious science fiction of a particularly compelling nature. What happens when Catholic priests, Jesuits no less, travel to another planet with intelligent life, and interact with the aliens there? Especially when the aliens seem to have a completely different sense of morality, treating one of the priests as a sexual plaything and worse.

But that was The Sparrow (1996), and its sequel, Children of God (1998). This novel couldn't be more different. Set in occupied Italy during World War II, it is the story of the Italian people who took in and hid their Jews, and other Jews escaping from France. It deals with the partisans, the Italian resistance fighters who tangled with the retreating Germans. It is a complicated story with a raft of characters, and that is probably my biggest complaint about the book, that it was hard keeping everyone sorted out in my mind.

Since science fiction is my thing, I highly recommend the author's earlier books, both of which I read before I began this blog. This book was personally disappointing. Not that it isn't well written, and frequently moving and even heart wrenching. It just that I was expecting more somehow. Or something different. Still, recommended for people with an interest in World War II, the plight of the Jews, and that whole milieu. For science fiction fans, go read the author's previous two novels.

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