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People of the Book by Geraldine Brooks
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People of the Book (original 2008; edition 2008)

by Geraldine Brooks

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
6,922377523 (3.93)707
Member:sueellenshaw
Title:People of the Book
Authors:Geraldine Brooks
Info:Viking (2008), Edition: First Edition, Hardcover, 372 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:***1/2
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 Madonnas of Leningrad by Debra Dean (mrstreme)
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    Girl in Hyacinth Blue by Susan Vreeland (whymaggiemay)
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    merry10: An imagined history of a 15th Century panel.
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    A Thread of Grace by Mary Doria Russell (Ciruelo)
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    The Secret Book of Grazia dei Rossi by Jacqueline Park (Smiler69)
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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.
  10. 22
    Small Gods by Terry Pratchett (CatyM)
    CatyM: A very different style of book from a very different genre, but an interesting commentary on the corruption/misuse of religious faith which complements this book's treatment of the same theme.
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    A Delightful Compendium of Consolation by Burton L. Visotzky (Osbaldistone)
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    The Thief of Time by John Boyne (Booksloth)
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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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    The Book of God and Physics: A Novel of the Voynich Mystery by Enrique Joven (Osbaldistone)
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» See also 707 mentions

English (369)  Spanish (3)  Dutch (3)  German (1)  Portuguese (Brazil) (1)  Finnish (1)  All languages (378)
Showing 1-5 of 369 (next | show all)
Well told stories about an unusual Jewish book passing through history and the people involved in its creation and preservation. I love history and the author does a wonderful job of invoking several different periods. The framing story is engaging and sets up and resolves the mystery of the book's creation and journey - based on true events. ( )
  joeydag | Jul 23, 2015 |
Hannah Heath, a rare book expert is called to Sarajevo in 1996 to take a look at the Haggadah, and illuminated Jewish religious volume. While restoring the book she discovers and insect wing, a wine stain, salt crystals and a single white hair. Her investigation into these clues leads the reader through not only through the history of the Haggadah, but through history itself. This is a fictionalized account of what may have been the Haggadah’s journey through time, but (and I may be mistaken here) I believe the Sarajevo Haggadah is a real illuminated volume.

The format of a character in present time making a discovery and then taking us through history is not a new concept for writing historical fiction (GIRL WITH THE PEARL EARRING is the first one I remember reading in this manner), but I find that I enjoy the backward path these books take to bring us back to the present.
( )
  ChristineEllei | Jul 14, 2015 |
This is obviously a book written to be a best-seller.

It presses all the right fashionable buttons, sometimes getting itself into considerable knots in order to reach them (it's not trivial to work both aboriginal land-rights and black lesbian muslim painters into a book that's ostensibly about the history of a Jewish text). But it's actually not quite as bad as you might think. It's a pack of nonsense when you put it all together, and it has one of the most unpleasant heroines I've come across for some time, and some scenes are atrociously overwritten, but the individual stories are all quite compelling, if a bit predictable. (I listened to most of it in the audio version narrated by Edwina Wren, who adds a touch of the bizarre and perhaps helps to rescue us from taking it all too seriously by giving all the non-Australian characters disconcertingly silly "foreign" accents.) ( )
  thorold | Jun 28, 2015 |
I must admit, after the first few chapters, I skimmed this book. It's just too literary for me. The author,however, does an excellent job of tracing backwards through history the owners of a haggadah -- a Jewish prayer book for Seder. I just couldn't remain interested long enough. ( )
  Stembie3 | Jun 14, 2015 |
This is one of those books I thought I should read. I wasn't especially enamored with the cover or the concept of the book - people who are part of an ancient text. But, the story caught me and has held me. I have found myself talking about this book to several different people.

So - what was it that changed my attitude?

The story is about Hanna, a book restorer (my title, not hers). She is a rather non-descript woman who has grown up in the very tall and dark shadow of her brain surgeon mother who sort of sucks all the air out of any room she enters. Hanna has made quite a name for herself in the world of book conservators, but will never measure up to her mom's ideal. That is the back story.

The real story is of the Haggadah - an ancient Hebrew text used at holy Seder meals. This book is rediscovered in Sarajevo following the Bosnian war and Hanna has been invited to check it out and rebind it for the next millennia.

Hanna discovers three minute artifacts in the binding - an insect wing, a hair and a blood stain. This is where the book really launches, because it tells the story of each of those artifacts in real time. So it is really a story inside a story.

What I found the most intriguing was the story of the book itself. I am not a historian - so the generations of anti-Judiasm woven into this story really took me by surprise. I know about WWII and how the Jews were treated - I just didn't really understand that this hatred had been part of their lives forever. So as the Jews are admired for their wisdom and their abilities they are also scorned for their wisdom and their abilities. AND woven throughout this entire book are stories of Muslims and Christians who have been able to look at the person and not the religion to help save this ancient text. It really struck me! We live in a world where we think we have evolved yet we are muddling through the very same problems that existed thousands of years ago! That doesn't say very much for progress.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book and would recommend it to anyone interested in history and in the secret life of a book! ( )
  kebets | Jun 10, 2015 |
Showing 1-5 of 369 (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 editionsconfirmed
Wren, EdwinaNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Epigraph
There, where one burns books,
one in the end, burns men. 

-- Heinrich Heine
Dedication
For the librarians
First words
I might as well say, right from the jump: it wasn't my usual kind of job.
Quotations
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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Disambiguation notice
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Wikipedia in English (3)

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.
Haiku summary

No descriptions found.

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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