Last summer during a visit to the Huntington Library I was thrilled to view the Ellesmere illuminated manuscript of Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales. It was one among many old and venerable manuscripts on display in the library exhibit halls which evoked feelings of awe and reverence in me. That memory came to mind as I read the first pages of People of the Book, a work of fiction, inspired by a true story, which promises to be both fascinating and informative.
Here is the publisher’s description of how the story begins:
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.
Brooks is a Pulitzer Prize winning author who started her professional writing career as a journalist and has now written several remarkable novels which bring history to life. People of the Book is recommended by an interfaith book group association and can be expected to evoke some good conversation. Start reading now, and come join the discussion!
Together with you in faith,