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.
About the Author
Cara Putman is an award-winning author with seven World War II homefront books in print. Her minor in history combined with her love of World War II history and the generation that fought then as heroes compel her to take the steps to get the historical details and research right. As a result, her readers have come to expect stories that sweep them back in time while illustrating a facet of the war they didn’t know existed. While her prior books have focused on homefront stories, this series will broaden to reach the European theater, without the battlefield scenes one would expect.
Read an Excerpt
Shadowed by GRACE
A Story of Monuments Men
By Cara C. Putman
B&H Publishing GroupCopyright © 2014 Cara C. Putman
All rights reserved.
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania March 1944
"YOU HAVE ONE CHANCE to make this fly." Bobby Hamilton leaned across his broad desk and stared her down. "I had to pull more strings than I knew I had to get the brass to bite on sending a woman to Italy. Who sends a woman to a war-torn country? Getting credentials? What a mess." The man waved his beefy hands down in a dismissive gesture. "Then getting you on the Queen Mary?" He chomped hard on his cigar.
Rachel perched on the chair in his crowded office as the Andrews Sisters belted out "Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy" on the small Kadette radio sitting atop a stack of papers on Bobby's overloaded credenza. She kept her back so straight her men's-style tailored blazer pulled her shoulders back.
She didn't blink, couldn't give a single sign of weakness. Her editor may have taken all those steps, but she'd had to convince him first, all while watching her mother waste away day by day.
"I hope you know what you're doing, Justice."
"I do." She put as much force behind the word as she could without shouting.
He leaned back in his chair, unlit cigar poised to punctuate a thought. "You've got talent. A way with that camera."
She stroked the case, feeling as if it naturally extended from her.
"Don't let me down. Send back photos that will wow readers." He didn't have to mention his bosses.
"Yes, sir." Rachel lurched to her feet and straightened her skirt's front pleat as she hurried from the room before he could call her back.
There was so much to do. Too much before she could join the mass of soldiers and handful of civilians who would cross the Atlantic aboard the HMS Queen Mary. If she hurried, she could finish cleaning the apartment and still make it to the hospital before visiting hours ended. It was a stop Rachel had to make, yet dreaded. How could she explain to her mother what she was doing while hiding her secondary purpose?
Rachel climbed the stairs to the small flat she'd shared with her mother for as many years as she could remember. With her coming absence and her mother's declining health, Rachel had let the lease lapse. A friend already had the few boxes filled with Rachel's lifetime of mementos and memories while another friend held her mother's things. The furniture never belonged to them, so it would stay. All that remained was to clean what she could, leaving it in reasonable condition for the landlord.
As she tackled the small bedroom with a bucket of water and a rag, Rachel reached as far as she could under the bed. Her cloth-covered fingers groped against a surface ... a book? She dropped the rag, then stretched farther, inching her head partway under the bed to reach the item. She grasped an edge and pulled it free.
The volume had a spiral-wire binding with heavy cardboard covers. Between those were thick pages covered with charcoal drawings. As she flipped through it, some of the images looked like different sketches of the same scene. Over and over. From different angles. Varying perspectives. Alternating attempts at techniques. Some were quite good, others pedestrian. All contained one woman, a large hat obscuring her features as she stared across a meadow at a field of some sort. Another hill appeared to be terraced, its steep edges softened by the drop-offs.
Rachel flipped through the book but did not see a name, a year, even a location. Nothing indicated who the artist was or when he worked. The book might contain preliminary sketches of a larger work. She'd often seen her mother use the same technique on the rare occasions they had enough extra money to allow her to create an oil painting. Because supplies were so precious, her mother labored over each painting, testing visions until she had one that pleased her.
It had grieved Rachel to sell her mother's paintings. But with their limited income, the paintings were what she could sell to keep her mother in the hospital. Now those were gone.
She scanned the pages one more time. One drawing held initials in the right-hand corner: RMA. Initials that weren't her mother's. Rachel slipped the book in her knapsack next to her mother's diary she'd found while cleaning out the closet, then returned to her work.
An hour later she closed the apartment door, leaving the key with the super on the first floor. As she walked the streets to the hospital, she slipped between those walking home from work or heading out for the evening. A GI wrapped his arm around a pretty girl bundled in a rich velvet turban and heavy coat. A mother guided an energetic son in his zigzagging pattern up the sidewalk.
Who would miss her if something happened? Her mother? A handful of others? But there was no one to wrap an arm around her and pull her close, whether to ward off the chill or because he couldn't get close enough. She'd poured her energy into proving she could handle a career as a journalist. The last year her remaining time had been poured into nursing her mother, trying to coax life into her.
The brick hospital loomed in front of her. Rachel stepped inside, nodded to the volunteer at the desk, then wound her way through the too-bright halls to the back of the third floor where her mother waited in a ward. The faint scent of disinfectant almost covered the distinct hospital aroma that surrounded Rachel. She sipped the air through her mouth as her gaze bounced around the ward.
She crept toward her mother's narrow bed but couldn't force herself to look into her mother's eyes, not when the woman had read her every thought with a glance from the moment Rachel had first breathed.
"What?" Her gaze strayed, anywhere but Momma's knowing eyes.
"You have news. Something big. Earth changing."
"All of that happens across an ocean." One of which she would cross. Soon. A chill skittered down her spine. She wanted this, didn't she? In fact, she'd pushed so hard for it, her editor couldn't ignore her a moment longer. She'd won. But when she looked at her mother, lying there pale and emaciated, Rachel feared she'd lost.
A harsh cough rattled from her mother. She tensed as if a vise squeezed the very air from her lungs. When Rachel knew her mother couldn't sustain another breath, she relaxed.
Rachel laced and unlaced her fingers. "You okay, Momma?"
"As okay as I can be." A wan smile tipped her mouth as her mother dabbed a handkerchief against her lips. Rachel exhaled when no blood dotted it. "So ..."
"I've been assigned to Europe. I leave on the next boat."
Her mother frowned, the edges of youthful grace slipping from her in the motion. "You got your way. Proved you were ready?"
"I see." The words sounded harsh like leaves crunching against an autumn sidewalk.
"I want to do something that matters. Bring the war home to people who can't imagine it. To those who are weary of the news we aren't winning. Somewhere there are stories that show the progress we're making. I want to share those."
"I suppose you talked your way to Italy in the bargain."
"Yes." There was no way Rachel would stop before she reached her goal. It didn't matter what she had to prove to whom—she'd do it. All to find the man who'd abandoned her before her birth ... but the man who might have the money to get Momma the treatment she so desperately needed.
"I don't want you looking for him." Steel undergirded the words, the kind that if Momma had her strength, Rachel wouldn't dare to cross. Instead, this time she'd be half a world away.
Half a world.
The prospect could scare the spit right out of her or force Rachel to find the courage the war required.
Another cough called Rachel back to her purpose. Without a miracle the tuberculosis would call Momma home soon. Her mother reached across the blanket for a handkerchief, her fingers knocking it to the floor. Rachel rummaged through her purse for a handkerchief, anything that would ease Momma's suffering. Her hands brushed the book, then a handkerchief. She handed the soft cloth to Momma, then retrieved the book.
"What do you have?" Momma's voice was a weak whisper.
"I found this under the bed."
"You should have left it there."
"What is it?"
"A trinket from the past." A cough shook Momma's frame, daring to pull her under and never let go.
"Momma?" Rachel tucked the book in her bag and scrambled to ease her mother. She had to stop it before the cough robbed Momma of her life.
The doctors said there was nothing more they could do, but Rachel knew it was a lie. They needed money before they'd try another treatment. Now she had the vehicle to make more money—she had to board the boat in New York City. Then Momma wouldn't rely on the kindness of old family friends. Not when the hospital couldn't keep her much longer without writing paid in full across the bill.
"Maybe I should stay, ..." Rachel's words trailed off.
Momma shook her head. "Why stay here and watch me waste away? Get out there. Take that camera and shoot the best pictures. You've got more talent than anyone over there."
"You need me here."
"Not as much as I want to know you're making something of yourself." Her momma squeezed out another smile. "Give me a hug and drop me a line every now and again. Ruth will make sure I get them."
Rachel nodded, fighting the tears that crowded her vision. "Yes, ma'am." She had to do this. For Momma. And for herself. She needed to prove to the rest of the world she could create art with her camera that mattered. That she could make a difference in the war effort. That her past did not control her future.
But if Momma died while she was gone ...
Her mother struggled to rise off the hospital cot. She fumbled with the silver necklace she'd worn every day Rachel could remember. "Here, take this. I want you to have it."
"Momma ..." Rachel's fear escalated. "You shouldn't give that to me."
"I received it in Italy. You should take it back." Momma shoved it at her, then started coughing.
Rachel took it and slipped it into her pocket. "Here, take a sip of water."
"Good afternoon, Miss Justice." The nurse handed Momma a small cup filled with water. "Ready for your afternoon nap?"
Momma fought to catch her breath. "If you stop this coughing."
"You been at it?"
Momma frowned. "You couldn't hear me at your station?"
"I guess it's not as bad as I thought." Momma closed her eyes, fatigue that never used to plague her pulling down the muscles in her face.
"I'll send postcards, Momma." Rachel leaned down and kissed her cheek.
"See that you do. You know I've always loved getting mail." She opened her eyes, the icy blueness standing in stark contrast to her pale skin. "And Rachel?"
"You leave your father alone."CHAPTER 2
Naples, Italy May 15, 1944
NOTHING WAS GOING AS advertised.
Lieutenant Scott Lindstrom's spine locked into place where he stood. He couldn't have heard the man right. "You want me to do what, sir?"
"You heard me. I'm attaching that photographer to you. We need the good press. And you need the work."
Scott fought back a retort. He didn't need a job. His parents and fiancée had told him he didn't need this one, but he needed to come. Needed the assignment as an officer with the Monuments, Fine Arts, and Archives Division, where he could do something meaningful in the war. The problem was, even those in the brass who thought he added value to the army weren't organized enough to let him do anything outside Naples. The rest thought his mission a waste of time.
Millennium of priceless art waited outside the walls of headquarters, and he had to cool his heels because he had no supplies and no transport. Everything was complicated by the immense needs present in a city that had been all but destroyed as the Allies battled the German army for control. Refugees due to the eruption flooded what was left of the infrastructure. The last thing he needed was responsibility for some dame who wasn't smart enough to stay home.
He knew why he'd come, why he'd accepted the risk.
Why would she understand?
He hadn't come only to shore up classic buildings that had stood since the Roman Empire that aerial bombings destroyed. Or locate priceless pieces of art created by masters in the thirteenth century to ensure the fighting hadn't destroyed them. Or plan for the restoration of those that had been touched by the war. The tales that art disappeared behind the lines made it more important than ever that he leave the city for the locations where the sculptures, paintings, and altarpieces were housed.
He couldn't do that with a tagalong.
"Sir, I'm not a babysitter." No, he'd come to Italy to save the history of Western civilization. At least the masterpieces and sculptures he could find.
The officer stared him down. "Do you want me to attach her to a unit headed to the front lines? How do you think that would play if she got injured or killed? This way you can keep her safe."
"She's a woman, sir."
"Of course. This is a new war." The man leaned back and crossed his arms over his chest.
Scott sighed. "How long?"
"A week. Bore her. Bring her back ready to take the next boat home. You have orders. Now get to it." The general turned to a pile of papers on his desk.
Scott snapped a salute and double-timed it out of the office back into the crazed maze that made up headquarters. His art degrees from Harvard combined with his post as curator of a small museum in Philadelphia hadn't prepared him to ferry a woman around a war zone.
When he hit the foyer, Scott stopped. The general had left out a few key details. Like how to find this reporter. He couldn't expect to stumble upon her. He stopped at one of the desks outside the office. "Hey, I'm supposed to squire Rachel Justice around. Any idea how I find her?"
"Check the public relations division. It's a couple buildings over."
"Thanks." Scott slapped his garrison cap on and then made his way to the hallway.
Soldiers marched up and down the narrow walkway in the old hotel the army had requisitioned. He waited for a gap, then thrust his way into the flow until he wound his way outside. A jeep zipping by kicked a barrage of rocks and clods of dirt against his uniform. One more layer of grime to add to countless others. What he wouldn't give for a hot, steaming shower. The destroyed sewer system was one of many gifts the Germans left when they destroyed Naples and pulled back.
The air overflowed with the sounds of a war machine gearing up for action. Yet he stood in place waiting to fulfill his assignment of saving masterpieces.
So far the Fifth Army command hadn't cleared him to do anything but wait ... now with a guest. Guess he'd better find her. He headed in the general direction of the press offices. He sidestepped a child, cheeks gaunt and eyes hollow, as the boy sifted through the rubble of what had been a home. Maybe a day ago, a week ago, even a month ago. It didn't matter now. The stone structure sat shattered along the sidewalk. Many of the villages surrounding Naples bore the same look. Shelled remnants stood next to intact apartments, victims of the tug-of-war between the Allied forces and the Germans. The bombs fell with little perceivable discretion. Killing here. Sparing there.
In the face of the brutal realities of war, not the war correspondent's black-and-white version but the living-color kind that plastered images he couldn't shake, he understood the arguments that monuments and fine art didn't matter. What mattered was ending the war.
Even the bombing of Monte Cassino began to make sense, though it had provided the perfect propaganda for the German war machine—reinforcing their image that the Allies had no understanding of the value of historic sites. That Americans were the barbarians intent on destroying rather than saving.
Scott stopped and watched the boy a moment, then reached into his shirt pocket and pulled out a Hershey's D-ration chocolate bar. "Boy."
The child ignored him, moving as if by an unstoppable force, building small piles of rubble as he worked.
Scott slipped into rusty but improving Italian. "You must be hungry." The thin face bore testament to the hunger that must claw at his belly. Scott might not appreciate the culinary delights of K rations, but it ensured a full stomach. The Germans had taken much of the produce and livestock in their retreat, leaving the peasants with little to live on.
Excerpted from Shadowed by GRACE by Cara C. Putman. Copyright © 2014 Cara C. Putman. Excerpted by permission of B&H Publishing Group.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
I read this book in one day--it was that well written. I found myself drawn into the story of Rachel and Scott from page one. What I found most astounding was how well Putman researches her books. She not only takes the reader on a journey into this little known world of the Monument Men of WWII but does so in a way that you find yourself flipping pages so fast you hardly realize you are learning as well as escaping into a lovely romance. Putman truly does justice to the Greatest Generation with this glimpse into the time of their service. This is a book for those that love historical, romance, mystery, and anyone interested in escaping to another time and place...I can't wait for more by this fabulous author.
ara Putman has wonderfully put the story with the Monuments Men to paper, I had never heard of them before, how awesome that we had these men. The story weaves a tale of War, we get shot at many times. We find a plethora of irreplaceable masterpieces, and now I have an idea of what these men preserved. Rachel Justice a determined young woman. Her Mother is out of options to help her TB, and is literally dying. They need money! She is a gifted photographer, and heads to Italy as a newspaper photographer. She is hoping to find her father there, whom she doesn't even know his name. She does have a few clues. Also we have Private Scott Lindstrom, a Monument Man, determined to make sure the treasures are there and kept safe. What both don't suspect is a bit of romance?? You will also be surprised at some of the other happenings during war time! Make sure you wear your helmet, you are going to be staying in a country that is being attacked. What a great glimpse into history!! I received this book through Litfuse Publicity Book Tours, and was not required to give a positive review.
Shadowed by Grace paints a timeless romance in the midst of destruction with colors so vivid you feel like you're living the story along with the characters. Cara Putman balanced rich historical facts with fiction beautifully. I received a history lesson without feeling like I got one. This story shows the sacrifice so many made, and reminds us that even during hardship, God's grace is always working for the good of His children.
I found this book fascinating! Rachel, a photographer, is searching for her dad in Italy – but it is during WWII and the Nazi’s are still there. She gets attached to a military unit, to take pictures of the war, but no one is expecting or wanting a woman in their unit. I really enjoyed reading about this part of the war as the Americans pushed the Germans out of Italy as I’d never read anything about it before. Great book – lots of surprises and I recommend!
World War II has not been my favorite era to read about but Shadowed by Grace is helping change my opinion! I'd never heard of the Monument Men! Rachel is a strong protagonist who is searching for a father her mother has never named. As a newspaper photographer, Rachel travels near the front lines in Italy where she discovers the love of her heavenly Father! I learned another side of history in Shadowed by Grace. Even if you are not a world war fiction fan, you will enjoy this book by Cara Putman! Anyone interested in art will be especially interested in Shadowed by Grace! I won my copy of Shadowed by Grace in a Cara Putman giveaway. This is my honest opinion.
I would recommend this book for anybody who love to read something about the saving of art in the region of Italy, and the loss of so much of it. Before the movie the Monuments Men, I don't think people realized how much the Allie countries were trying to keep the art in all the countries that the Nazi's were trying to take. Behind all of it, you have a women working on getting the story out of how bad the conditions are for the refugees and trying to find her father, whom she never knew, and falling in love with her guide. I feel Putman explained some much of what was going on at the time that it felt like I was there.
I have learned a lot about the "monumental" job the Monuments Men did in World War II in rescuing art treasures. The book is very detailed and for me was a bit boring. If you are a art history major or have a keen appreciation for the arts, by all means read it. For others, it might be more information than you want to know.
A good read for historical fiction fans! Set in Italy, towards the end of WWII, as the Germans were being chased out by the Allies, leaving a huge wake of destruction. Interesting setting for a novel, including the formation of a the Monuments Men division of the Army, whose job was to find and restore historic art and architecture. It also gives a good look at the hazards of being a photojournalist at the time, especially a woman travelling with the troops. The story builds slowly, but towards the end it gets more interesting as the plot and characters develop more. Sometimes the story seems a little bumpy, like the broken roads they have to navigate, but in the end it pulls together for a satisfying read. Would have been more interesting if there were actual photos from the time or maps in the index to reference. Readers could benefit more from all of the author's research that way. Recommend for historical fiction fans, especially WWII buffs, who don't mind a bit of romance in the mix.
I read this after reading the Monuments Men. I liked the "human touch" of this historical fiction. Very well written - highly recommended!!!
Enjoyable read, nice story line.
I love stories set in WWII, but I love it most when authors put a twist on a familiar setting by finding something I really didn't know about and bringing it to life for me through amazing characters. That is exactly what Cara has done in "Shadowed by Grace". First we have a female photojournalist, Rachel, who gets herself sent to the frontlines in Italy in an effort to not only try to capture the Pulitzer moment but even more importantly to find the father she has never met. She is partnered with Scott who is part of the Monuments Men that are there to locate, protect and preserve the rich art in Europe that is getting pilfered, destroyed and pillaged. The questions become... can Scott do his job effectively when someone seems to be sabotaging his efforts? Can Rachel find her father with the one lead she has brought with her when her mother won't tell her anything? Can Rachel and Scott find the ultimate reason God has brought them together in the middle of such evil and destruction? Toward the beginning there was quite a bit of referencing to the unsureness that both Rachel and Scott had as far as romantic notions go... but once the book got going it seemed like that worked itself out and Rachel and Scott became a wonderful couple that I loved learning more about. My favorite parts of the story were in seeing what the Monuments Men were really about - amazing pieces of history wrapped up in wonderful storylines, scenic countrysides of Italy and moving characters. Very enjoyable and I would love to see a follow up with these characters and more Monuments Men facts and scenarios!
Thank you to Cara Putnam and Litfuse Publicity group for a copy of Shadowed by Grace. This story focuses on the Monuments Men. These men worked to save and preserve art and historical buildings during World War II. You can also win a copy of this fabulous novel. Synopsis: Rachel has great hopes as she leaves for Italy to join the press core in the war. The one regret is having to leave her mother who is struggling with tuberculosis. The work that Rachel will do might be enough to provide treatment for her mother. Will her mother be able to last? The only other hope is for Rachel to find her father in Italy. She has a sketchpad and her mother’s journal to help her in her search. Once she arrives everything is not easy. Rachel is assigned to the Monuments Men unit. She assists Lieutenant Scott Lindstrom as he catalogues art. Will he help her find the answers Rachel so desperately needs? My Thoughts: This is my first novel by Cara Putnam. I will be revisiting more of Cara’s work in the future. If you enjoy Brock and Bodie Thoene and their stories you will enjoy Shadowed by Grace. I loved the subject of the Monuments men. The movie that is also based on this topic is being released this weekend as well. The genre is Romantic Suspense and while the focus is on Scott and Rachel’s relationship there is more to the story. The author stays true to the history of the 1940s and the World War II. The only note is that I felt that the author waited a long time to move the plot along. by Jencey/ Writer's Corner
I like historical novels because often they give a sense of "being there" on the ground. The Good German, for example, give great descriptions of post-war Berlin. Often the story is of secondary interest to me. Skeletons at the Feast, however, provides a good story with interesting characters, and a sense of the place, time, and events. This book is very short on details of place and time. Instead it offers up an improbable treakley story of romance and searching. I do not believe the main character for a second. The prose is barely readable. I think I'll just read monuments men.
ARTFUL WRITING TO THIS MONUMENTAL READ The morning after I finished reading Shadowed by Grace, the daily newspaper had a front page article about the movie Monument Men, and I immediately flew to my computer and wrote an excited note to Cara Putman that went something like this: Hello Cara, Just last evening I completed reading your wonderful book Shadowed by Grace. This morning I picked up today's edition of the Ft Worth Star Telegram and my eye immediately fell to the lower left column on the first page. There was a picture of Robert Edsel above the words “Dallas man drove movie on WWII art rescue”...and went on to talk about the movie made about Monument Men, based on his book about the group’s heroic efforts. Of course, my attention was caught immediately because I had just read his name in your personal notes at the back of the book. Just wanted to let you know....your story made quite an impression on me...imagine finding this article this morning!! Best of God's Blessings, Barb Shelton Not only did reading this article put real faces to the imaginary names in Cara’s story, it enlightened me to the thorough research she immersed herself within to write this fascinating story. Now, I could see Lieutenant Scott Lindstrom as George Clooney (instead of Gregory Peck) and had already imaged Anne Hathaway as Captain Rachel Justice. Cara Putman’s story is indeed based on cultural affairs….and I do not mean that word loosely regarding Rachel and Scott! Each, the epitome of respectable ethics in an ungracious period of history. Some of the characters in the story rank as unscrupulous and conniving, while other’s exhibit bravery and faith in God to grace them with safety and daily provisions of which there was little. It was dangerous to lose direction while traveling by jeep, especially if the driver had already lost his way spiritually . This is a love story surrounded by treacherous conditions of war. Ms. Putman’s exclusive subject on saving historical art masterpieces was literally unknown to me and I reverentially appreciate learning how this world has been able to continue the study and enjoyment of historic art because of a few military men assigned their duty as Monument Men.. God is our eternal guardian and brings about good from the worst of circumstances through his children and angels . If you have noticed the absence of story details in this review, that is on purpose. You can read those in other fine reviews of Shadowed by Grace and on the back cover of the book. The uniqueness of this story is complimented by the unusual civilian career as an art museum curator held by Scott Lindstrom; and the fact that a woman photographer, Rachel Justice, assigned to the war zone during that time in history was not a common happening. Will the mystery of finding the father in Italy Rachel never knew be “wrapped up?” Will Scott be allowed to understand why Rachel is so afraid of falling in love? Why is Rachel’s ill mother so unwilling to offer Rachel the answers to her birth? This story is about war, peace, love, culture, fear, bravery, searching, redemption, and God’s grace fulfilled. Oh, by the way, Cara Putman graciously replied to my note, and my respectful regard for her as an author and friend is sincerely touched. Her writing fulfilled my expectations because it taught me something important about history I did not know. I eagerly anticipate reading her next book. You need to read this story! Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from LitFuse Publicity Group in exchange for my honest review. All opinions expressed are my own, and no monetary compensation was received for this review.