Pulitzer Prize author Geraldine Brooks is an excellent writer. ‘People of the Book’ sweeps the reader through an adventure that both intrigues and educates. Based on a true story of the Sarajevo haggadah, this historical fiction story is about a beautifully illuminated Jewish book which was actually protected from the Nazis by a Muslim librarian.
The flyleaf says it best: “In 1996, a rare book expert is offered the job of a lifetime: analysis and conservation of a mysterious, beautifully illuminated Hebrew manuscript created in fifteenth-century Spain and recently saved from destruction during the shelling of Sarajevo’s libraries. When Hanna Heath, a caustic Aussie loner with a passion for her work, discovers a series of tiny artifacts in the book’s ancient binding — an insect-wing fragment, wine stains, salt crystals, a white hair — she begins to unlock the mysteries of the book’s eventful past and to uncover the dramatic stories of those who created it and those who risked everything to protect it.”
Brooks does a good job of showing the history of the Jews and how they have often had to battle against those who would seek to destroy them and their culture. However, it also shows how people of various religions can see the humanity and value in one another and the things that are precious to them, rather than just the differences. This is a powerful message and makes this an important, as well as a compelling, read.
Here is a page from the Sarajevo haggadah.