The book is fantastic. For some reason I am having trouble writing a review for it. I think it is because the book is so well written and so well researched that I think any review is just going to pale in comparison. So I won't try to get fancy. I simply love this book because it is about a book and the passion of the people who risk their lives to save it.
Hannah is a rare book expert and she is in charge of conserving and analyzing the Sarajevo Haggadah. It is a manuscript that has been saved from the 1400's. The book opens as she arrives heavily guarded and escorted to "meet" the famed book and then she begins her examinations of the book. For me this was extremely interesting. She takes a hair, an insect wing and a stain from the book to be evaluated and for the rest of the book she is analyzing and discovering data which reveals some of the possible history of the book. (I might suggest this is not before bed reading, but I am in no way saying it is boring).
The book goes from 1996 to the past, 1800, 1600's, and the 1400's. There is never any confusion as each section is beautiful labeled and quoted. I know sometimes readers don't like to switch back and forth, but I don't think this will bother anyone. These sections are beautiful and even heart wrenching.
There is powerful History of the book being described to us. Powerful segments. I found myself wanting more of these sections as I bonded with the characters and wanted to know more.
The book has a thickness to it... meaning it has heavy parts. Religious oppression, anti-Semitism, slavery, and rape. The book travels through centuries with rich Jewish, Catholic, Christian, and Muslim heritage and cultural depictions. I read the book in sections for weeks. Just a little at a time but I plowed through almost 200 pages in one day and I would just put the book in my lap for a few minutes and think about it. I am pretty sure I will pause over the next few weeks and think more about it.
There are mini themes in the book such as a mother-daughter / family issue. Hannah is not without a man issue in her life either, so there is plenty of story to go with the fascinating story of the book. I did not find it distracting from the main theme. I enjoyed it and found it necessary to break up some of the realities of the history of mankind.
I haven't read a lot of reviews on it for I wanted to form my own thoughts. But I think I did hear mention that it might remind someone oftThe DaVinci Code and I have to say that I would agree, but the writing is so much more intelligent. And I don't mean to say that I didn't ADORE AND LOVE The DaVinci Code because I loved that book.
To hear more of the book and please visit the Authors website here. There are a lot of cool tools and stuff to read there.
Geraldine's essay detailing the WWar II history of the Sarajevo Haggadah, “The Book of Exodus: A double rescue in wartime Sarajevo”, appeared in the New Yorker Dec 3, 2007