BI Book Club Meeting
Date(s) - 08/14/2014
Categories No Categories
BI member Barbara Blumenthal will lead a discussion of People of the Book: A Novel by Geraldine Brooks.
From the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of March comes this story of the journey of a rare
illuminated manuscript through centuries of exile and war.
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.
In Bosnia during World War II, a Muslim risks his life to protect it from
the Nazis. In the hedonistic salons of fin-de-siècle Vienna, the book
becomes a pawn in the struggle against the city’s rising anti-Semitism. In
Inquisition-era Venice, a Catholic priest saves it from burning. In
Barcelona in 1492, the scribe who wrote the text sees his family destroyed
by the agonies of enforced exile. And in Seville in 1480, the reason for the
Haggadah’s extraordinary illuminations is finally disclosed. Hanna’s
investigation unexpectedly plunges her into the intrigues of fine art
forgers and ultranationalist fanatics. Her experiences will test her belief
in herself and the man she has come to love.
Inspired by a true story, People of the Book is at once a novel of sweeping
historical grandeur and intimate emotional intensity, an ambitious,
electrifying work by an acclaimed and beloved author.