The Grave of Godís Daughter is set in the small steel-mill town of Hyde Bend during 1941. Block does an excellent job of conveying the stifling poverty and misery of this time and place. Opening with the funeral of her mother, we are soon swept away by the remembrances of this woman who is burying her mother.
The tale that unfolds at a languid pace is mesmerizing in its intricacies. The characters are so well-developed that the reader could swear they can see old Swatka Pani hobbling along with her cane. She is so vividly cruel that most readers will welcome her fate in the book as what she deserves.
Martin and his sister are portrayed with all the fear and terror that children of an alcoholic father and a distant mother actually feel. The daughter finds out the secret their mother harbors while making enough money to buy back a black Madonna. She does this by pretending to be a boy, delivering meat by hand and betting on a dogfight.
Along the way, she manages to witness the final exchange between Swatka Pani and the person who gives Swatka her just reward. She also runs into a mysterious woman who is thought to no longer live in town because she is a willing recluse in her dilapidated house. It turns out that the woman who is there - but isnít, really - has some connection to the black Madonna being pawned. Upon finding this out several other secrets are revealed to our heroine.
With a tightly woven plot, almost breathable characters and realistic dialogue, The Grave of Godís Daughter is a must-read for anyone who loves great fiction.