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Hanna Heath studies and restores rare books. She is offered the chance of a lifetime when she is contacted by the United Nations to restore a rare illuminated Haggadah at the end of the Bosnian War. Hanna manages to pull out a few clues to the book’s history. As she follows up on the clues, we glide back and forth through time, visiting first Hanna, and then the story of the book’s owners and saviors backwards through a long, tumultuous history.
Hanna’s story was almost just filler to me. I wasn’t bored by any means, but I couldn’t wait to see where and when the book would take me next. The characters in the book’s history were fascinating and only at the end did I really get a good sense of how everything fit together. The hints were there, they were just so subtle that I didn’t quite catch them. But the author wrapped everything up beautifully. None of this is a complaint, by the way. I found the whole thing intriguing.
I loved the fact that there was a theme running throughout of people saving the book who weren’t necessarily Jewish. Muslims and Christians living during times when everyone was fighting saw the value of the book and saved it. It just seems that so often, history and books seem to focus on the negative; it’s nice to see that there are always people out there who are able to overcome prevailing prejudice and do what is right.
I recommend this one to just about anyone.
Reviewed January 15, 2009
Read an excerpt.
Find author Geraldine Brooks on her website.
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Friday Flashback Reviews are a weekly feature here on The Introverted Reader. These are old reviews I wrote on GoodReads. Thanks to Angieville and her Retro Friday Reviews for the inspiration and encouragement!
I have an affiliate relationship with Malaprop’s, my local independent bookstore located in downtown Asheville, NC; and Better World Books. I will receive a small commission at no cost to you if you purchase books through links on my site.