Shadowed by Grace is a dramatic story inspired by the Monuments Men of World War II by acclaimed author Cara C. Putman. Desperate to save her dying mother, Rachel accepts her newspaper’s assignment to travel to Italy to capture images dangerously close to the front lines of WWII. Her real motive – to find the father she never knew — an artist she hopes can offer the comfort and support both she and her mother need to survive. It’s an unlikely situation for love and faith to flourish, but soon Rachel not only finds herself, but also her long-lost earthly father, and ultimately, the man her Heavenly father created to cherish and provide for her.
World War II in Europe was about removing Hitler from power and freeing the people his Nazis had conquered. Before the dramatic D-Day landings in June 1944, the Allies landed in southern Italy and began their march north. Fighting between the Allies, Germans and Italians left the country in a bad way. Innocent civilians were caught up in the conflict, and some of Italy’s priceless historical artefacts were damaged, destroyed or stolen. An allied group, unofficially known as Monuments Men, was sent out to recover and restore what they could.
In Shadowed by Grace, photographer Rachel finds herself teamed up with Monuments Man Scott Lindstrom as they advance north. En route, they encounter locals who either welcome or distrust them, and pillaged Catholic churches. They help where they can, and Rachel takes photographs of the devastation. They eventually reach the castle of Montegufoni, where many works from Florence were hidden for safety during the war. It is there that they meet a former associate of Scott’s, a man who may hold the key to Rachel’s personal history. The final, pivotal, scenes take place in Florence. Weirdly, I experienced a sense of déjà vu while reading the climactic scene. I was certain I’d read this or a similar turn of events before, but I’ve no idea where.
This is an emotionally charged novel that is part war, part romance and part whodunit. It showed us how women in the military were often not taken seriously by their male counterparts and subordinates. We get an understanding of life for regular Italians, living among the rubble with little to eat, and never knowing whether they’d survive the day or which army to trust. Romance during a time of war could be fleeting. Here we have two people who get to know each other gradually and fall in love despite their best efforts. I didn’t feel the romance was forced or happening too quickly. Ultimately, this was a book I found difficult to put down.
Thank you to B & H Publishing for my free electronic copy of Shadowed by Grace, which I downloaded from NetGalley. No review was required.
Publisher: B & H Publishing
Publication Date: 01 January 2014
Page Count: 352