People of the Book: A Novel
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The bestselling novel that follows a rare manuscript through centuries of exile and war, from the author of The Secret Chord and of March, winner of the Pulitzer Prize.
Inspired by a true story, People of the Book is a novel of sweeping historical grandeur and intimate emotional intensity by an acclaimed and beloved author. Called "a tour de force"by the San Francisco Chronicle, this ambitious, electrifying work traces the harrowing journey of the famed Sarajevo Haggadah, a beautifully illuminated Hebrew manuscript created in fifteenth-century S pain. When it falls to Hanna Heath, an Australian rare-book expert, to conserve this priceless work, the series of tiny artifacts she discovers in its ancient binding-an insect wing fragment, wine stains, salt crystals, a white hair-only begin to unlock its deep mysteries and unexpectedly plunges Hanna into the intrigues of fine art forgers and ultra-nationalist fanatics.
and my query to myself about missing clasps. To get to London from Sarajevo, you had to change planes in Vienna. I was planning to use that necessary stopover to accomplish two things. I had an old acquaintance—an entomologist—who was a researcher and curator at the Naturhistorisches Museum there. She could help me identify the insect fragment. I also wanted to visit my old teacher, Werner Heinrich. He was a dear man, kind and courtly, sort of like the grandfather I’d never had. I knew he’d be
familiar about him, but Lola could not think where they might have met. Sava took her hand and pressed it reassuringly. Then he was gone. The tall man beckoned Lola to follow him. They left the building. He ushered her into the backseat of a small car, signaling that she should lie down on the floor. Only when he had started the motor and pulled out from the curb did he speak. His accent was refined, his voice gentle as he questioned her about where she had been and what she had done. They had
coat, since it served that purpose in Sydney. I had no idea. So I must’ve cut a pathetic figure when I lobbed up on his doorstep, shivering, the snowflakes that’d melted in my hair turned to little icicles that clinked when I moved my head. His innate courtliness made it impossible for him to turn me away. The months I spent grinding pigments or polishing parchments in his spacious flat-cum-workshop, or sitting beside him in the conservation department of the nearby university library taught me
appreciated, what even the most dilapidated binding might be able to tell. Much information was lost when old bindings were stripped and discarded. Every time I have had to work on such a volume, it pains me to think of it. Most likely, if the book arrived in Vienna with clasps of some kind on the old binding, they would have been the original . . . but one cannot be sure. . . .” Hanna 99 I nibbled at a small piece of a devastatingly rich cake called Waves of the Danube, which was Werner’s
far,” said Vistorini, opening the book at the first set of illuminations. “See, here? The artist tells the story of Genesis. He gives us the division of light from dark. So, and very nicely done, the severe contrast of the white and black pigments. Austere and eloquent. Nothing there of a heretical nature. The next one: ‘And the spirit of God moved on the face of the waters.’ Lovely, 184 People of the Book the use of the gold leaf to indicate the ineffable presence of God. Again, nothing