I like books with happy endings. A Thread of Grace, by Mary Doria Russell, is not a book of happy endings - not at all. Yet, I will read it again next year.
I don't just like her book, I love it. In the midst of a story that covers the worst atrocity in human history, and littered with characters of questionable morality and worse deeds, Mary Doria Russell manages to find a thread of grace, and to convince me that it is genuine and enduring.
Russell visited the places she describes in her novel, and interviewed survivors of the war. Her original research lends an authentic, present quality to her prose - an immediacy that caught me up into the lives her characters.
There is no question that Russell not only makes history live again, she proves beyond any doubt that it's relevant to our times and our lives.