Geraldine Brooks’ The People of the Book drew me into world I knew nothing about: that of rare books, their preservation and history. The main character, Hanna Heath, is offered what she called “not her usual kind of job” when she was asked to analyze and conserve a priceless Jewish book (the Haggadah) with images that was rescued from the bombing of Sarajevo.
Interspersed with Hanna’s work on the Haggadah, the author takes us on a journey back into time. We learn what Hanna can only guess about: the book’s creation, the addition of the images, and the events that caused the marks and stains on the book.
Based on a true story, the author brings to life an amazing tale of how Muslims and Christians helped to preserve a Jewish historical treasure. The multiple layers in the novel, the historical detail, and the insight into the art and science of rare book preservation all combine with the mystery of how the Haggadah survived the centuries to create a truly engrossing read.