MOTIVATION: I loved her novel Year of Wonders and heard good things about this one. I don’t have notes on how I came to this copy; I had added it to my goodreads to-be-read in Dec 2009.
FIRST SENTENCE: “I might as well say, right from the jump: it wasn’t my usual kind of job.”
WHAT’s it ABOUT: Brooks took a known ancient book, the Sarajevo Haggadah, a few known facts, and her fantastic imagination to weave together a fictional but possible historical account of the people who all played a part in the life of the book. Farflung places, religion, feminist rants, class issues, war, love, sex, hate, powerful people and slaves all are explored and tossed in for flavor and a thrill of a ride.
This was about a Jewish book that is odd for its age because it has beautiful paintings of a style not usually in this kind of book. It survives centuries and situations when many other books were found and burned. The readers are introduced to many characters as Brooks creates a series of stories to explain how it may have come to be, how it traveled, and how it became a unifying symbol for Sarajevo.
It’s a fascinating ride involving art, religion (oh yea – I mentioned that), interesting careers like LIBRARIANS! and art historians and even surgeons. The details are rich and lively. We get to know to the main characters and feel what they feel. It has action and intrigue, double-crossings and even a bit of romance. All the pieces and parts fall together when I wondered if they would, my questions got answered, I was entertained.
I had expected to really enjoy this and it did not disappoint. I will most definitely look forward to reading March as well as Brooks’ latest Caleb’s Crossing.
Other REVIEWS: See Fyrefly’s Awesome Book Blogger Search results.