Author: Geraldine Brooks
Publication Date: 2008
Number of Pages: 372
Part of a Series: no
- Books-conservation and restoration-fiction
- Judaism-prayers and devotions-fiction
- Rare books- fiction
- Religious persecution
- Religious liberty
- Sacred books
- Voyages and travel
Geographical Setting/ Time Period: modern day- Bosnia, Australia, U.S., Israel and the past Spain, Italy, Austria, Bosnia
Hanna Heath- the Australian rare book conservator who tries to find the story behind the books she works on;
Ozren Karaman- the brave librarian who saved the Haggadah during the bombing in Sarajevo
Plot Summary: The Sarajevo Haggadah, an ancient illustrated Hebrew manuscript, has reappeared after the cease fire in Sarajevo. Hanna has been approved by the UN and the Bosnians to inspect the manuscript and restore it so it can be placed on display with other religious items that will showcase that various cultures and religions enrich each other. Thus begins a journey which takes the reader back to specific times in the manuscript’s history based on small items found during the restoration.
Appeal: This book has many stories within the main story. It delves into many issues concerning religion and some politics. It progresses at a fairly leisurely pace. This would appeal to many historical fiction readers as it is detailed and visits various places at different times in history. The characters are well written and strong. Note: This book has a map on the inside cover of the trip that the manuscript has taken.
Brief quote: “Here in this museum in 1894, M. Martell had worked his soft cloth and his small brushes over the old and blackened pieces of metal until the silver once again gleamed in the light. For just a moment, the very dispassionate M. Martell had lost his head. ‘The clasps,’ he had written, ‘are extraordinarily beautiful.’” (page 104)
Prizes or Awards: Australian Book Industry Awards Book of the Year and Literary Fiction Book of the Year, Massachusetts Book Awards Fiction Award and School Library Journal’s Adult Books for High School Students 2008
Sarah’s Key by, Tatiana de Rosnay (NoveList- Jewish history, WWII)
Kepler by John Banville (NoveList- intricate plot historical fiction, religious persecution)
Reviewer’s Name: Erin Bedford
Adapted from Saricks, Joyce G. and Nancy Brown. Readers= Advisory Service in the Public Library 2nd. Chicago: ALA, 1997.