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A Thread of Grace Study Guide & Plot Summary

Mary Doria Russell
This Study Guide consists of approximately 64 pages of chapter summaries, quotes, character analysis, themes, and more - everything you need to sharpen your knowledge of A Thread of Grace.
This section contains 344 words
(approx. 2 pages at 300 words per page)
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A Thread of Grace Summary & Study Guide Description

A Thread of Grace Summary & Study Guide includes comprehensive information and analysis to help you understand the book. This study guide contains the following sections:

This detailed literature summary also contains Topics for Discussion and a Free Quiz on A Thread of Grace by Mary Doria Russell.

Plot Summary

When Mussolini surrendered in 1942, Jews were no longer under the Italian Army's protection from the invading Germans, and many fled from several small countries over the treacherous Alps to northern Italy. Small farms and villages in these mountains, populated by people of diverse political and religious beliefs, extended their hands and homes to 43,000 Jewish refugees who might otherwise have been lost to the horrors of Nazi death camps. In her novel, "A Thread of Grace," Mary Doria Russell's wonderful characters live with courage, guilt, fear, hope and compassion, all intertwined with one another in a complex web woven by a disastrous war. The driving force they have in common is their sheer will to survive in a war-torn Europe, severely sliced in every direction by political factions and devastation.

Russell's characters handle the challenges of tremendous personal loss each in their own way. Claudette Blum, a teenage Belgian girl whose mother and brother have disappeared since they boarded a train from France, escapes to Northern Italy with her father, Alberto. Renzo Leoni, an Italian Jew whose guilt over atrocities committed in the Absynnian war fuel his acute alcoholism, disguises himself as a Catholic priest and a Nazi officer as a way to bring food, aide and supplies to his fellow Jewish refugees. Iacopo Soncini, a rabbi, and his wife Mirella, also leaving the hotel in San' Andrea, eventually take in hundreds of refugees of every nationality who are desperate for food, shelter and medical aid. Dr. Schramm, a fallen SS officer, enters the story looking for absolution for the 91,867 people whose lives he has taken under Hitler's command in the name of science.

Although the history of this period in Europe is fundamentally tragic, as readers, we applaud these suffering, resolute people, not only for surviving the robbery of family and basic living conditions, but also for surviving through the immeasurable damage to their sense of home, hope, faith and joy. They do not all survive, but a greater percentage survived in Italy due to human kindness and a "thread of grace."

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This section contains 344 words
(approx. 2 pages at 300 words per page)
Purchase our A Thread of Grace Study Guide
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A Thread of Grace from BookRags and Gale's For Students Series. ©2005-2006 Thomson Gale, a part of the Thomson Corporation. All rights reserved.
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