by Geraldine Brooks
Inspired by the true story of a mysterious codex known as the Sarajevo Haggadah, People of the Book is a sweeping adventure through five centuries of history. From its creation in Muslim-ruled, medieval Spain, the illuminated manuscript makes a series of perilous journeys: through Inquisition-era Venice, fin-du-siecle Vienna and the Nazi sacking of Sarajevo. In 1996, Hanna Heath, an Australian rare book expert, is offered the job of a lifetime: analysis and conservation of the famed manuscript, which has been rescued once again from Serb shelling during the Bosnian war.
Priceless and beautiful, the book is one of the earliest Jewish volumes ever to be illustrated with figurative paintings. 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 becomes determined to unlock the book’s mysteries. As she seeks the counsel of scientists and specialists, the reader is ushered into an exquisitely detailed and atmospheric past, tracing the book’s journey from its creation to its salvation.