People of the Book
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From the Pulitzer Prize–winning author of March, the journey of a rare illuminated manuscript through centuries of exile and war
In 1996, Hanna Heath, an Australian rare-book expert, is offered the job of a lifetime: analysis and conservation of the famed Sarajevo Haggadah, which has been rescued from Serb shelling during the Bosnian war. Priceless and beautiful, the book is one of the earliest Jewish volumes ever to be illuminated with images. When Hanna, a caustic loner with a passion for her work, discovers a series of tiny artifacts in its ancient binding—an insect wing fragment, wine stains, salt crystals, a white hair—she begins to unlock the book’s mysteries. The reader is ushered into an exquisitely detailed and atmospheric past, tracing the book’s journey from its salvation back to its creation.
In Bosnia during World War II, a Muslim risks his life to protect it from the Nazis. In the hedonistic salons of fin-de-siècle Vienna, the book becomes a pawn in the struggle against the city’s rising anti-Semitism. In inquisition-era Venice, a Catholic priest saves it from burning. In Barcelona in 1492, the scribe who wrote the text sees his family destroyed by the agonies of enforced exile. And in Seville in 1480, the reason for the Haggadah’s extraordinary illuminations is finally disclosed. Hanna’s investigation unexpectedly plunges her into the intrigues of fine art forgers and ultra-nationalist fanatics. Her experiences will test her belief in herself and the man she has come to love.
Inspired by a true story, People of the Book is at once a novel of sweeping historical grandeur and intimate emotional intensity, an ambitious, electrifying work by an acclaimed and beloved author.
From the Hardcover edition.
Publishers Weekly Review
© Publishers Weekly
People of the book
I found this book fascinating. Learned a great deal more about Jewish history. The concept the author used for the story was unique and the search for truth of The Book was a intriguing mystery.
A great weave
Although I wasn't drawn in right away it quickly became one of those "wow" books. It was just really well done. The way the author was able to go between the main narrator/character to the "real" stories of how the book came to be, was fantastic. At first I thought it was taking the easy way out by going back in time and highlighting different characters, but it really made for a dynamic and well done woven tale. I highly recommend this book!
Geraldine Brooks has blown me away again. She has such a simple, yet intelligent way of telling a story that you are completely captivated from page one! While her stories always cover a full range of emotions for the reader, you always feel good afterwards, even if the story line is depressing. I love her books and recommend them to anyone and everyone.