In The Golden Manuscripts: A Novel, Evy Journey skillfully intertwines two narratives that delve into the complex themes of racial identity and the repercussions of stolen art from WWII. The story revolves around a biracial protagonist, Clarissa, and a WWII soldier who finds himself entangled in a web of moral dilemmas as he steals illuminated manuscripts from a church in Germany. The author does a wonderful job of weaving these threads together, creating a thought-provoking and multilayered story that explores the intricacies of identity and the lasting impact of historical actions.
Clarissa is an artist who is working on an advanced degree at a university in California. She sees a news article about the stolen art and is intrigued. As she investigates the stolen illuminated manuscripts further, she realizes that she wants to focus her thesis project on them, highlighting an art form from the medieval period. Her thesis advisor recommends she connect with a friend of his, someone who is also interested in the stolen art but for different reasons. They work together to learn more about the stolen art, chasing the theory that it was stolen by an American soldier. As Clarissa uncovers information about the past, she wrestles with her present, including her identity, her fractured relationship with her parents, her beloved younger brother, and her sense of home.
I really enjoyed reading this book. Through Clarissa’s character, the author expertly captured the emotional turmoil of navigating dual cultural identities. The author also highlights the challenges that WWII soldiers faced as they grappled with their own identities and the impact of war on themselves and their families. As the story unfolds, readers are immersed in a world where the weight of the past intertwines with the present, resulting in a rich and engaging narrative. The stolen illuminated manuscripts serve as a powerful symbol, representing not only the historical injustice committed but also the potential for healing and reconciliation. Through this subplot, the author invites readers to contemplate the broader implications of stolen art and the importance of restitution in acknowledging and honoring the cultural heritage of others.
There wasn’t much I didn’t like about this book. I am biracial myself and appreciate art, so the themes in this book really resonated with me. With that, I rate this book 5 out of 5 stars. The juxtaposition of the biracial protagonist’s personal journey with the WWII soldier’s struggle created a thought-provoking reading experience that I really enjoyed.
I would recommend this book to anyone who is interested in stolen art and the efforts taken by many to recover it. I would also recommend this book to readers who enjoy books with themes around identity, family, and the search for the meaning of home. And finally, I would recommend this book for anyone looking for an engrossing, enjoyable vacation read; this book delivers a great read.
Read an excerpt of the book: Download