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Thursday, June 16, 2011

An Illuminating Story

People of the Book by Geraldine Brooks

A very rare illuminated haggadah (illustrated Jewish book) was rescued from the bombings in wartorn Sarajevo.  Now, Dr. Hanna Heath has been asked to restore/conserve the book so it can be put on display.  Dr. Heath finds some artifacts in the pages of the book, including a hair, a salt grain, a wine stain, and a butterfly wing.  The story of Dr. Heath's work with the book and the resulting activities in her life is broken up by explanations of the artifacts' origins, allowing the reader to learn the truth of the book's journey and how the book was created. 

Like the Sarajevo Haggadah, Geraldine Brooks, a pulizter-prize winning author (March), has created a masterpiece.  The short stories of the haggadah's travels and creation had me emotionally involved so soon into the story.  And, there are unexpected twists and turns in Dr. Heath's part of the book's story as well.  Simply put, it is an engrossing read, especially if you love history or short stories.

Amazingly, the Sarajevo Haggadah, actually does exist.  A short synopsis of the haggadah's history is given at the end of book.  It explains what parts of the story are based on fact and which Brooks has imagined.  It's just incredible.  Unfortunately, I don't know much about the war/s in Bosnia, Croatia, Serbia.  It was interesting to learn a little more about that area of the world and it's history from reading this book.

I will definitely be reading more of Geraldine Brooks' works.

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