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People of the Book: A Novel
From the Pulitzer Prizewinning 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 bindingan insect wing fragment, wine stains, salt crystals, a white hairshe begins to unlock. the books mysteries. The reader is ushered into an exquisitely detailed and atmospheric past, tracing the. books 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 citys 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. Haggadahs extraordinary illuminations is finally disclosed. Hannas 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.
No spoilers here
- January 6, 2008
Id been waiting for this book since I read the excerpt in the New Yorker last month. It didn't disappoint. The vignettes of each time period were expertly done, all of the characters well drawn, the history as timely as today. The love of books, history, art come through very well through the entire book. The horrors of the past and how they keep repeating themselves was very well expressed without being hammered into the reader. Given my track record with this author (I didn't care for her other two fiction books, tho I do love her non fiction), I was very very impressed.
Two things that are keeping this from being a five star for me. There was too much about Hanna. Her character obviously is important, but the whole love affair, her problems with her mother, all of that could easily have been taken out. And that last chapter sounded like something from a Mission Impossible movie, and was totally unnecessary.
The other thing was the ommission of Leila's meeting... read more
"Book burnings. Always the forerunners. Heralds of the stake, the ovens, the mass graves."
By Luan Gaines "luansos"
- January 1, 2008
In 1996, as rare book expert Dr. Hanna Heath examines the Sarajevo Haggadah, an illuminated Hebrew manuscript from 15th century Spain, she carefully removes a series of artifacts that, under laboratory examination, will offer insight into the remarkable journey of this unusual text. Having survived the Serb-Bosnian war, the haggadah yields precious clues that allow Hanna to reconstruct the attrition of time: the fragment of an insect wing, an apparent wine stain, a white hair, salt crystals. It requires all of Heath's considerable skills to trace the evidence through the centuries to the book's origin. One of the earliest illuminated Hebrew books to feature figurative art, this haggadah has been repressed by medieval Jews for religious concerns. Perhaps made in mid-4th century Spain, when Jews, Christian and Muslims peacefully coexisted, the manuscript begins its troubled journey in the Spanish Inquisition and expulsion of the Jews from Spain in 1492.
An Australian, Dr... read more
"A book is more than the sum of its materials. It is an artifact of the human mind and hand."
By E. Bukowsky "booklover10"
- December 31, 2007
"The People of the Book," by Geraldine Brooks, opens in Sarajevo in 1996. Under the watchful eyes of bank security guards, Bosnian police officers, two United Nations peacekeepers, and an official UN observer, a thirty-year-old Aussie named Hanna Heath has been hired to perform an exacting task. She is about to examine a precious fifteenth century codex, the Sarajevo Haggadah, "one of the rarest and most mysterious volumes in the world." Hanna's impressive qualifications include honors degrees in chemistry and Near Eastern languages as well as a PhD in fine art conservation, which as she patiently explains, is very different from book restoration. She knows her materials intimately: calf's intestine, pigments, gold leaf, and parchment are some of the tools of her trade. The Haggadah, which was created in medieval Spain, is "a lavishly illuminated Hebrew manuscript made at a time when Jewish belief was firmly against illustrations of any kind."
The book first came to... read more
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