Wow – Geraldine Brooks has so far not disappointed me. Mind you, I’ve only read Year of Wonders and this one so far.
This book touched me in very different ways. I loved the writing. I thought the language was wonderful, and I really enjoyed the story for the share narrative joy of it.
But more than that, this book put into a novel what I feel about books in general. The premise of the novel is that of a manuscript scholar studying an ancient book (or manuscript). She finds clues in the manuscript that correspond to vignettes in the novel. It is a testament to Brooks’ writing that I usually forgot about the overall story when I was reading vignettes. That’s how much she pulled me in. We are taken to Spain in 1492, to Venice at the end of the Inquisition, and to the mountains outside Sarajevo during World War II. With a deft stroke of her pen, Brooks brings to life characters that are immortalized in the manuscript her main character is studying.
And the vignettes corresponding with the microscopic pieces of evidence illustrate soooo well why I love a hand-held book so much better than a Kindle. The history, the love, the triumph , the heartache that is attached to this volume is amazing. What potential is there for that in an electronic copy? How can an electronic copy ever convey the drama attached to a reader’s experience when reading the work?
If you love books, if you love mother-daughter drama, if you love a good coming-of-self novel for women, this is a MUST read.
Hell, even if you hate all those things, you should read it anyway. For the joy of the Book.