Thursday, January 24, 2008

What Have I Been Reading

Geraldine Brooks, Pulitizer prize winning author of March, offers up a compelling literary mystery cum character study in her latest novel People of the Book. It is, as the author notes, "a work of fiction inspired by the true story of the Hebrew codex known as the Sarajevo Haggadah."

A talented book restorer with a less than warm family life, Hannah Heath, finds herself employed to repair and authenticate an ancient Hebrew text that has re-surfaced in war torn Sarjevo in 1996. Working from tiny clues embedded in the manuscript itself, Hannah begins to unravel its travels through the centuries and in alternate chapters Brooks elaborates the ancient lives that touched the manuscript in some way. Their own stories of love, courage, and desperation flesh out and resonate with the Hannah's own life-mending journey.

The authenticity of the book restorer's world clearly justifies the volume's dedication "For the Librarians," but what captures the general reader is how the characters throughout the centuries struggle with their own human deficiencies and their competing desires to display principled reactions to the situations they have been placed in.

If you like a mystery, if you like history, if you like books, you will like the People of the Book.

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