I recognized the name of this author which made me have a bit more interest in this book. When I realized it was the same author who wrote "Year of Wonders: A Novel of the Plague", I knew I had to read this. I think I've learned more about history from reading historical novels than I have from history classes in school. Brooks is excellent at weaving a story around history that makes it a learning experience. This book, about the Hebrew codex known as the Sarajevo Haggadah, opened my eyes to much more than I would ever have known. I found it interesting to learn of Convivencia, when Jews, Christians, and Muslims coexisted in relative peace. Sometimes its refreshing to know that there can be religion without terror and war, book burnings, slavery, suppression, well, you get my drift. I am in fact, drifting right now though, because there was much struggle in this book's "lifetime." In 1996, Hannah, a rare book expert, finds herself delving into history when analyzing a Hebrew haggadah. In the books she finds an insect wing fragment, wine stains, a piece of hair, and salt crystals for starters, and begins to follow the whereabouts of this book, it's past, who may have created it, who risked their lives to save it. Well written, enlightening, a learning experience. Really enjoyed it,
I never felt anything for the contemporary protagonist, Hannah. Her story added nothing to the book and made it 100+ pages too long. I would have much rather known more about the historical characters that told the journey of the haggadah. I enjoyed those portions of the book very much, and think the historical realm is where Geraldine Brooks excels.
Read this for my book club. It was an engaging story that really pulled me in a nd kept me tuning pages as quick as I could. The switching between characters was sometimes tough to follow but not overly so. I would def recommend this one.
I enjoyed the multiple stories spanning hundreds of years that come together to make up the story of a 500 year old religious book. The modern day central character brings all the stories together in one cohesive history. There are many cultures and important moments in history that weave together this enjoyable book.
This was the story of Hanna, a book conservator, who in 1996 is called to war torn Sarajevo to restore the Sarajevo Haggadah, a 500 year old Jewish prayer book. She finds interesting historical artifacts while doing her restoration - a white hair, a red wine stain, etc. - which lead to intertwining chapters going back in time telling the story of the book and how those artifacts ended up in the book. Those chapters also take us back to WWII, the Inquisition, and back to 1480 when the original illustrations for the book were created by a Muslim woman in Spain. There is a LOT of religious history in this book and the relationships throughout history between Catholics, Jews, and Muslims. Lots of religious persecution throughout history but also times when the three religions co-existed peacefully (before another religious war would break out). I thought the history was interesting and the short fictional stories about the people in those different time periods and how they connected to the Haggadah was also interesting. I also learned a lot in the chapters about Hanna about book conservation that was very interesting. And in her story there is also the relationship with her mother and different museums and librarians and other conservators. This was a good book and I only give it four stars because the historical chapters were slower reading for me because they were a little dense.
I really loved this book and found it very engaging! It was a wonderful mix of history and modern day. A story of a religious book that was saved multiple times by people who were not so religious. There were a couple of major plot twists that took me by surprise, but were ultimately satisfying.