Sunday, 25 May 2008

A Thread of Grace - Mary Doria Russell

I pretty much spent all of yesterday reading A Thread of Grace by Mary Doria Russell.  It was a recommendation of Dave's and I can really see why he recommended it.  To everyone who told me they wouldn't have time to read this book before the book club - make the time!! You're not going to recommend it.

You can read Dave's thoughts on the book here and Ms Russell e-mailed him her thoughts about the book which are posted on Chewing the Fat also.  That post also contains a lot of discussion on the book in the comments including some links to other bloggers posts.

I am shockingly late to this party because of being ill but I do have to say I'm glad I didn't try to read it whilst feeling lousy (oh and thanks for all the well wishes etc, I'm finally back to fighting fit).  It's not a comforting, easy read.  It challenges you and makes you think right from the very first page.  I wish I could write something that would do it justice, I wish I could write half as good as Ms Russell.  I can do neither.

Disability is a theme throughout this book but in a way in which you almost don't notice it.  There is one huge yes moment that people have commented in the discussion made them cry.  It didn't make me cry.  But it did make me suck in my breath and appreciate just how huge that moment and that achievement was in the book.  And it made me very happy when later on in the story it became obvious that it was a hard won lesson but one in which had to a certain extent been taken to heart.  But happy is the wrong word in that context.  Other than that moment it was until after reading others' comments that I realised just how often there were hints of disability in the book.

World War Two is a favourite period of mine to read about and that more so than the disability themes/moment is what drew me in and made me enjoy the book more than anything.  It is truly masterful the way in which so many unthought of issues are woven together to provide a full and true picture of life during that time.

And in Italy too, a place I've always wanted to visit.

On one of the last pages in the book one of the characters shares a Hebrew saying with another.

"No matter how dark the tapestry God weaves for us, there is always a Thread of Grace."

That's true for all of us - and Ms Russell has brought her characters to life and shown us the Threads of Grace which lit up even the darkest of their worlds.


Myrrien said...

Thank you for your comments on my blog.

You are right about the subtle way the theme of disability is woven through the book, Mirella's love for her child and her determination to love and keep the child against the wishes of her community was awesome and so well written.

It is an amazing book and your review is very eloquent - I enjoyed reading it.

dave hingsburger said...

Thank you for joining in and for your review. I too wish that I could express myself the way Doria Russel did - the story of the Italian resistance, the love of Mother for disabled child, and the way disability is woven into the story are all reasons why I loved this book. Thanks.

Writings of a WheelchairPrincess ~ Emma's Blog said...

[...] read which hit me and touched me in ways I didn’t expect.  I wrote about that in detail here.  If you’re looking for fun, easy reading, chick lit type books - this is not your book.  [...]


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