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View our feature on Geraldine Books's "People of the Book."From
the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of "March," 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-siecle
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 ultra-nationalist 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