Gracianna is a fictionalized account of the life of the author’s great-grandmother. Inspired by his discovery of a loaded German Luger in her house when he was only four years old, Trini learned all he could of her life from his relatives. He filled in the gaps with a gripping tale of a courageous woman recruited into the French resistance during the Nazi occupation of Paris and forced to make some very difficult choices.
At the beginning, I wasn’t sure I was going to be able to get into the story of Gracianna. The scene where the author found the German Luger left me far less terrified than I would expect to be by a scene involving a four year old and a gun. The story continued in a choppy fashion, with every chapter broken up into very short and often disconnected scenes by section labels. There was also a lot of telling instead of showing and the dialogue felt a bit stilted. However, early on a picture of Gracianna’s character started to emerge and I liked her. I liked her a lot. She was a very good, very strong woman. It was enough to keep me enjoying the story and it only got better from there.
As the pace of the plot picked up, it became more common for the scenes separated by section breaks to immediately follow one another. That made it easier to ignore the breaks and it only got easier as I got sucked into the intense plot. By the end, the story was flowing very smoothly for me and I couldn’t put it down. I also started to notice some truly beautiful phrases and well-crafted sentences. Although I liked the writing better as I went, it still didn’t overshadow my favorite part - the main character. Even writing this review over a week after finishing the book, I have a very strong impression of what Gracianna was like and again, I liked her. It was incredible to read about someone so brave and so willing to sacrifice herself for others. And even if the brave parts were fictionalized, I think it added to the story that the beginning and the ending were anchored in the truth. Like Anna Karenina, this is a book I would recommend particularly for it’s ability to bring one very striking woman vividly to life.This review first published on Doing Dewey.