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People of the Book

A Novel

Brooks, Geraldine

(Book - 2008)
Average Rating: 4 stars out of 5.
People of the Book
Print
A fictionalized account of the turbulent history of the Sarajevo Haggadah, an illuminated manuscript which has survived into the twentieth century thanks to people of various faiths who risked their lives to safeguard it. Hanna Heath, a manuscript conservator hired to restore the manuscript in 1996 Sarajevo, finds and pursues clues to crucial moments in the book's history.
Publisher: New York, N.Y. : Viking, 2008
ISBN: 9780670018215
067001821X
Branch Call Number: FIC B
Characteristics: 372 p. : map ; 25 cm.

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Sep 10, 2014
  • ABenoit rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

I really liked it. Looking forward to future novels

Jul 20, 2014
  • DanglingConversations rated this: 3 stars out of 5.

The plot is strung together like a series of short stories, and as with that format, often there is an implication of complexity that is not spelled out. The short stories which tell how the found evidence, butterfly wing, hair, etc, always felt incomplete to me. There was no link to how the book might have travelled around Europe through the milenia. This is an interesting look into the science of book binding and preservation of old manuscripts but the protagonist and her conflicted relationship with her mother detract from the gravity of the subject and the tragedy of racism throughout the ages. Not an engaging read, but worth a quick browse because of its technical background.

Jul 06, 2014
  • CSil rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

Picked this as my choice for one of my book clubs. had not read anything by geraldine brooks, thought of picking march since it won the pulitzer prize but decided that the group would like the story of the haggadah so went with people of the book. the group really liked it. while i am not a fan of historical fiction i liked the book as well. it is very well written and you learn a lot about the struggle of the Jews throughout the centuries. we all liked that the stories went back in time. i also found that as we discussed the book i liked it even more. each story stands on its own but then is interwoven in a very fascinating way as the mystery is solved. and the main character, hanna, is an unusual woman whose characteristics are very interesting.i highly recommend this book.

Apr 11, 2014
  • KCLSLibrarians rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

A beautifully illuminated ancient Hebrew text is at the center of this fascinating detective story that ultimately plunges book expert Hannah Heath into the dangerous world of art forgers and political fanatics. From wine stains to insect wings Hannah traces the history of book all the way back to 1480 where she finds the true reasons that this particular text was so beautifully illustrated. A great read for historical fiction and mystery fans alike.

Mar 14, 2014
  • ehbooklover rated this: 4 stars out of 5.

This is two books in one. First, it is a historical adventure story of the Sarajevo Haggadah and secondly, it tells the story of book conservator Hannah. Hannah’s present day investigation of the book takes the reader back in time to get to know all of the people who touched or were changed by it. Obviously well researched and full of complicated and flawed characters, this was a very enjoyable read.

Feb 04, 2014
  • Cathleen @Blood rated this: 4.5 stars out of 5.

This was a well written historical novel that tracked a single document, a Haggadah through hundreds of years of its existence. This is a story of violence and yet of shared values between people of different countries and different beliefs.

Jun 10, 2013
  • mogie rated this: 3 stars out of 5.

Really interesting book. Covers an unusual topic based partially on history.

May 04, 2013
  • iluvjacob rated this: 3 stars out of 5.

I read Geraldine Brooks' other book 'March', which was a Pulitzer Prize winner and deservedly so. This book doesn't favorably compare in terms of writing. The concept was very interesting, and the execution was beautiful in parts but not so much in others. The flow from the past to the present and back was somewhat choppy - and it was difficult to care about the characters in the present. They weren't all that likable.The writing for the 'past' characters was, I found, more compelling. Still a good book - I had to skip over a few pages in the chapter on the Spanish Inquisition - I understand it happened, but I choose not to read about it in detail.

Jul 29, 2012
  • mcschroeder rated this: 4 stars out of 5.

Interesting and good read. I hated putting it down. Loved looking at history as a series of normal human actions in everyday life. I'd recommend it for a book club- lots to discuss.

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Jun 05, 2013
  • Sounddrive rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

Sounddrive thinks this title is suitable for 15 years and over

May 29, 2012
  • Keep_On_Rockin rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

Keep_On_Rockin thinks this title is suitable for 15 years and over

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Publishers Weekly

Reading Geraldine Brooks's remarkable debut novel, Year of Wonders, or more recently March, which won the Pulitzer Prize, it would be easy to forget that she grew up in Australia and worked as a journalist. Now in her dazzling new novel, People of the Book, Brooks allows both her native land and current events to play a larger role while still continuing to mine the historical material that speaks so ardently to her imagination. Late one night in the city of Sydney, Hanna Heath, a rare book conservator, gets a phone call. The Sarajevo Haggadah, which disappeared during the siege in 1992, has been found, and Hanna has been invited by the U.N. to report on its condition. Missing documents and art works (as Dan Brown and Lev Grossman, among others, have demonstrated) are endlessly appealing, and from this inviting premise Brooks spins her story in two directions. In the present, we follow the resolutely independent Hanna through her thrilling first encounter with the beautifully illustrated codex and her discovery of the tiny signs-a white hair, an insect wing, missing clasps, a drop of salt, a wine stain-that will help her to discover its provenance. Along with the book she also meets its savior, a Muslim librarian named Karaman. Their romance offers both predictable pleasures and genuine surprises, as does the other main relationship in Hanna's life: her fraught connection with her mother. In the other strand of the narrative we learn, moving backward through time, how the codex came to be lost and found, and made. From the opening section, set in Sarajevo in 1940, to the final section, set in Seville in 1480, these narratives show Brooks writing at her very best. With equal authority she depicts the struggles of a young girl to escape the Nazis, a duel of wits between an inquisitor and a rabbi living in the Venice ghetto, and a girl's passionate relationship with her mistress in a harem. Like the illustrations in the Haggadah, each of these sections transports the reader to a fully realized, vividly peopled world. And each gives a glimpse of both the long history of anti-Semitism and of the struggle of women toward the independence that Hanna, despite her mother's lectures, tends to take for granted. Brooks is too good a novelist to belabor her political messages, but her depiction of the Haggadah bringing together Jews, Christians and Muslims could not be more timely. Her gift for storytelling, happily, is timeless. (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

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