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People of the Book by Geraldine Brooks

People of the Book (original 2008; edition 2008)

by Geraldine Brooks

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6,799365542 (3.93)692
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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» See also 692 mentions

English (357)  Spanish (3)  Dutch (3)  German (1)  Portuguese (Brazil) (1)  Finnish (1)  All languages (366)
Showing 1-5 of 357 (next | show all)
Brooks tells an engaging fictionalized story about the very real Sarajevo Haggadah (a more than 600-year-old illuminated manuscript.) The main character Hanna Heath (whose life I wouldn't mind having, for the most part) is a rock star book conservator responsible for restoring the book. The story moves from scenes of her life as she works on this project, to various stories related to the people who have had a hand in creating, preserving, and harboring the book through the many years of its existence. The scenes are triggered by bits of things found in the book during the conservation process, such as a butterfly wing, a cat hair, some salt, etc. In short, this a very clever idea that is well-executed. I certainly enjoyed some of the stories more than others. In particular, I loved Hannah's present-day scenes (filled with parental drama, love interests, and some political intrigue) and the story of the artist who created the images in the book, but other stories dragged a bit and sometimes the transitions were a tad jarring. That's really my only complaint though. Otherwise it's a fascinating and delightful read. Recommended, especially to those who are interested in book conservation, illuminated manuscripts, and books about books. I look forward to reading more of this author's work. ( )
  DorsVenabili | Jan 5, 2015 |
only 20 pages in and I love the book so far! ( )
  mara.murdoch | Nov 4, 2014 |
A fictionalization of the story of the Sarajevo Haggadah. A haggadah is a book used at the Passover seder, which retells the story of the Biblical Exodus. There were two strands of the story: one in modern-day; a scholar and book restorer comes to prepare the book for a museum exhibit. There are anomalies she finds in the book, which lead her to investigate the history and provenance of the book. Through the years, Christians, Jews, and Muslims have saved the book from destruction. The story takes us from 1480s Spain, for 500 years. And we travel from Spain to Venice, Vienna to modern-day Sarajevo. I really liked the story of the book and those who had something to do with its preservation. The modern-day story was less successful. Of course, the author needed a modern foil to do the investigation, but the author's personality and that of her mother were unlikeable. I did not like squeezing in such a fast-blazing love interest. ( )
  janerawoof | Sep 3, 2014 |
Written in alternating chapters, the story of the protagonist Hanna Heath, in contemporary time, and chapters that are like little short stories set in different places and times that follow the history of a rare book. I loved the "short stories" about the book. Didn't love the Hanna chapters. ( )
  charliesierra | Aug 31, 2014 |
This is a book about a book - the haggadah - a Jewish book historically important because of it's illuminations. I would loosely consider it historical fiction. The haggadah exists and a few of the facts in this novel are accurate, but for the most part everything is made up.

This book got a lot of positive reviews on LT, but it wasn't my favorite. I enjoyed the parts of the book where the author speculates on the book's journeys and role in history, but the main character is very annoying. She is a book conservator studying the haggadah. The parts about the haggadah are interesting because you get the idea that even the expert book conservator comes to a lot of wrong conclusions. The reader ends up knowing much more about the book's actual history than the expert ever will. But the author also tries to develop the main character through a totally implausible relationship with a museum curator and her relationship with her brain surgeon mother. Those parts are really ridiculous. ( )
  japaul22 | Aug 31, 2014 |
Showing 1-5 of 357 (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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There, where one burns books,
one in the end, burns men. 

-- Heinrich Heine
For the librarians
First words
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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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.
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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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