The People of the Book By Geraldine Brooks

0
Wednesday, Apr 6, 2011

This fascinating, fast-paced book falls in the genre of historical fiction. It tells the real-life story of Haggadah (from the Hebrew root “HGD” = “to tell”), a Jewish book read over the Passover Seder table to relate the story of the Jewish exodus from Egypt. The story of a real life codex, now stored and on display in Sarajevo, alternates between the present time and historical events. The heroine, Hanna Heath, a manuscript conservator, is hired to restore this rare Jewish artifact. She unlocks the mysteries and clues hidden within the codex’s pages, which include various stains and spots, cat hair, missing silver clasps and dry butterfly remains. All is eventually explained as part of the manuscript's centuries-long journey through time. The codex, which was created in the Middle Ages, traveled to Seville in the 1480s and later found its way to Venice, where a polyglot Jewish community thrived on a tiny nearby island in the 1500s, to 19th century Vienna, to war-torn Sarajevo where it was hidden by a Muslim scholar and librarian who risked his life to save the Haggadah during a civil war. A definite Dan Brown read-alike.

Magda B.

Written by Magda B.