Provenance, by Ronald Florence, is an interesting look into two books that affect the lives of men and women through the centuries. Fiction is infused with history within the pages of Provenance, which contains the story of two factual books.
From the Aleppo Codex, or Aleppo Crown (medieval Hebrew Bible) to a woman’s book of prayer, the characters portrayed within the pages exhibit realized individuals, each with their own story to tell, and each with their own religious concept, within the realm of their environment.
Provenance reads like a story of intrigue, a detective story and a story of greed and goodness. The individuals involved in the holding of the Crown of Aleppo transfer it thousands of miles, from Egypt to Provence, Aleppo to Israel to Brooklyn, in a tapestry of life. Florence depicts life, customs, daily dealings, and history in depth.
Background details of life are portrayed with lovely prose and with clarity, within the centuries. The novel contains historical data and testaments that contribute to a mysterious concept of lives lived, and lives struggling to keep hold on the Crown.
The pages are infused with Jewish history, rituals and with a love story, as well. At times the prose is mystical and surreal sounding. That does not detract from the story line.
I felt the fact that the women’s book of prayer being interwoven within the pages diminished the strength of the story line of the Crown of Aleppo. I would much rather have it been a story written strictly for the Crown of Aleppo, alone. I think it could have stood on its own.
I did enjoy reading Provenance, though, and thought it was an intriguing story.