"It's only words, and words are all I have, to take your heart away." —Bee Gees
This engrossing read traces the fictionalized history of a real-life ancient Jewish manuscript found in Sarajevo, Bosnia and the people – Jews, Muslims and Christians – who shaped its destiny, from the 15th century up to the present day. The details about the restoration and conservation of old books are quite fascinating. Richly steeped in history and meticulously researched, the story jumps back and forth between chapters set in different countries and eras with different characters. Some of these characters are sympathetic and likeable, some others not so much (one example of the latter is Hanna, the main character in the present era, who comes across as annoyingly judgmental to me). When reading novels structured like this I would sometimes be more drawn to certain story lines more than the others, but Brooks spins her tale so well that after a few pages of each new chapter I always found myself captivated, no matter how I may feel about the characters. I've had a secondhand copy of this book in my stacks for years but only got to it this year, when it's starting to look like it's well on its way to becoming an ancient manuscript itself. I'm very glad I gave it a chance.