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People of the Book by Geraldine Brooks

People of the Book (original 2008; edition 2008)

by Geraldine Brooks

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
7,677415440 (3.93)764
Title:People of the Book
Authors:Geraldine Brooks
Info:Viking (2008), Edition: First Edition, Hardcover, 372 pages
Collections:Your library
Tags:Haggadah, Sarajevo, book conservators, mystery, multifaith

Work details

People of the Book by Geraldine Brooks (2008)

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    The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafón (BookshelfMonstrosity)
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    The Books of Rachel by Joel Gross (StarryNightElf)
    StarryNightElf: Epic saga tracing the path of an object connected to those of Jewish descent.
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    The Book Nobody Read: Chasing the Revolutions of Nicolaus Copernicus by Owen Gingerich (oregonobsessionz)
    oregonobsessionz: This one may be a stretch, but anyone who read People of the Book for its historic and "books on books" aspects would probably enjoy The Book Nobody Read, a nonfiction account of an astronomer who seeks to account for all of the first and second editions of Copernicus' de Revolutionibus.… (more)
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» See also 764 mentions

English (406)  Spanish (3)  Dutch (3)  German (1)  All (1)  Finnish (1)  All (415)
Showing 1-5 of 406 (next | show all)
Review: People Of The Book by Geraldine Brooks. 4 Stars 06/04/2017

Geraldine Brooks takes her readers through the depths of history with fictional realism based on her research. The book was well written, organized to be understood, and characters that came to life as you read. Geraldine Brooks weaves her story in two directions starting in the present in Sarajevo and moving backward through time to Seeville in 1480. This was a very interesting and intriguing story about safe-keeping one of the first Hebrew religious books that was written in the fifteenth-century in Spain and recently saved from destruction. The Sarajevo Haggadah manuscript was handed down through generations however, stolen during the siege of 1992 and found again in 1996. That is when Hanna Heath, an Australian rare-book expert was asked by the U.N. officials to evaluate the condition, conserve and repair the priceless manuscript.

Hanna found a series tiny artifacts as she checked the binding of the book such as; an insect wing fragment, wine stains, salt crystals, a white hair which, only heightened the mystery to Hanna’s curiosity and suspicion to intrigue the norm of fine art forgers. Hanna begins to unfold the mysteries of the book’s eventful past and uncovered dramatic stories of those who created it and those who risked everything to protect it.

The journey and life of this book was well explained and more by the author’s incredible descriptions of it’s history of creation and why, what eras it jostle through, the people who handled it and secretly hidden the manuscript in a mysterious place, and how all the tiny artifacts that Hanna found in the binding told Hanna where to travel for it’s history while also creating her own love story….

Over years the Sarajevo Haggadah manuscript was thought to be destroyed, so many people were astonished when it reappeared in Bosnia, Dr. Hanna Heath was entrusted with preparing the book foe a museum display and just a short time she discovered a lot of information of it’s past. Heath was able to capture the books journey of centuries and how, through the efforts of strangers of many faiths how it survived the ravages of time and human history right down to the ancient insect’s wing… ( )
  Juan-banjo | Jul 4, 2017 |
Hanna Heath is a rare book restorer who gets drawn into the story surrounding the real-world Sarajevo Haggadah, which is a Jewish history book of sorts. And in the process, a rather crusty and antisocial young woman (who, damaged as she might be at the outset, is nowhere near as unlikable or unappealing to me as she apparently was to many other readers) becomes a lot more human as her work on this ancient book intersects with her personal life in several interesting and enlightening ways. Also, the Michener-like imaginary history of the Haggadah is told through backstories that trace the work from the present day to World War II and, eventually, back to the late 1400s. A treat for bibliophiles and history buffs, both the (relatively) present day parts of the novel and the history are handled well, and it all dovetails nicely in the end. ( )
  jimgysin | Jun 19, 2017 |
A book restorer and conservator, Hanna is commissioned to restore and rebind a very rare haggadah. In the book, she discovers some unusual artifacts: part of an insect wing, a white hair, and some stains on the pages. Through these things, she tries to trace the path the book has taken since its creation. Going back and forth in time, the reader sees what Hanna has discovered and then how it came to be. A fascinating work of historical fiction, inspired by a true story. ( )
  Maydacat | Jun 4, 2017 |
This was a wonderful story well written by Geraldine Brooks. Sorry I waited so long to read it. As the book moved progressively back in time (alternating with the present), I found myself confusing characters. The book is like the unfolding of a Sunday NYT crossword puzzle. Loved it. ( )
  bogopea | May 9, 2017 |
I liked but did not love this book. I had read something in the news about the book, so I knew there was some basis in truth to it. I thought the author did a good job of bringing the characters she created and the times and places she lived to life. However, the way the flashbacks were laid out made it hard for me to get a sense of the flow of history, which is one of the key benefits I derive from reading historical fiction. ( )
  Eye_Gee | May 8, 2017 |
Showing 1-5 of 406 (next | show all)
While peering through a microscope at a rime of salt crystals on the manuscript of the Haggadah, Hanna reflects that “the gold beaters, the stone grinders, the scribes, the binders” are “the people I feel most comfortable with. Sometimes in the quiet these people speak to me.” Though the reader’s sense of Hanna’s relationship with the Haggadah rarely deepens to such a level, Geraldine Brooks’s certainly has.
Brooks' novel meticulously, lovingly amalgamates mystery and history with the personal story of its heroine, rare-book expert and conservator Hanna Heath.
If Brooks becomes the new patron saint of booksellers, she deserves it. The stories of the Sarajevo Haggadah, both factual and fictional, are stirring testaments to the people of many faiths who risked all to save this priceless work.
added by DieFledermaus | editUSA Today, Susan Kelly (Jan 9, 2008)

» Add other authors (20 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Geraldine Brooksprimary authorall editionscalculated
Wren, EdwinaNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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There, where one burns books,
one in the end, burns men. 

-- Heinrich Heine
For the librarians
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I might as well say, right from the jump: it wasn't my usual kind of job.
The words stuck to his tongue like...the ashes that had fallen in a warm rain after the last book burning.
I wanted to give a sense of the people of the book, the different hands that had made it, used it, protected it.  I wanted it to be a gripping narrative, even suspenseful.
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Book description
Hanna Heath, an Australian rare book expert, has been offered the job of a lifetime: analysis and conservation of the famed Sarajevo Haggadah, rescued from Serb shelling during the Bosnian war. Priceless and beautiful, the book is one of the earliest Jewish volumes ever to be illuminated with images. When Hanna discovers a series of tiny artificacts in its ancient binding -- an insect wing fragment, wine stains, salt crystals, a white hair -- she begins to unlock the book's mysteries, ushering in its exquisite and atmospheric past, from its salvation back to its creation through centuries of exile and war.
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In 1996, Hanna Heath, a young Australian book conservator is called to analyze the famed Sarajevo Haggadah, a priceless six-hundred-year-old Jewish prayer book that has been salvaged from a destroyed Bosnian library. When Hanna discovers a series of artifacts in the centuries' old, she unwittingly exposes an international cover up.… (more)

(summary from another edition)

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