This book has been on my nightstand for a long time and I finally had the time to read it. Stitched into a series of vignettes, the story follows the life of a 500 year-old illuminated Haggadah. Hanna Heath, a book conservator tasked with the job of ensuring the stability of the book, travels from her home in Australia to Sarajevo, Bosnia where the book is under heavy guard. Upon taking the book apart to restitch and fix small holes in the binding and seams, she finds evidence of where the book has been throughout its 500-year history. The story alternates between the present (in this case 1996) and the past. The story of the Haggadah is told in reverse chronology – moving steadily backwards, ending with the creation of the drawings that become the Haggadah.
Not only a story of a book as the title would suggest, but in many ways a history of the Jewish struggle to exist in a world that found reason after reason to make that as difficult as possible. For a student of history as I am, I found more questions than answers that have led me onto more history books about the history of the Jewish people.
If you have never seen an illuminated Haggadah take a look. They are absolutely gorgeous. I had no idea until now that they existed.
Bottom line: I am told that it is a tough book to read because of the alternating plot lines. I didn’t have the same sensation perhaps because I listened to it. Try it and see and then come join us at the main library on February 6th, 2015 at Noon to discuss.
NB: I checked this book out of the Chelmsford Public Library. I received no compensation from this review.