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People of the Book by Geraldine Brooks

People of the Book (2008)

by Geraldine Brooks

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
8,062435609 (3.93)794
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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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  12. 00
    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 794 mentions

English (424)  Spanish (4)  Dutch (3)  German (1)  Portuguese (Brazil) (1)  Italian (1)  Finnish (1)  All languages (435)
Showing 1-5 of 424 (next | show all)
Hanna Heath, an Australian book conservator, has been hired to work on the recovered Sarajevo Haggadah, in still-tense 1996 Sarajevo.

The Sarajevo Haggadah is a unique work, a centuries-old Jewish prayer book illuminated in the manner of Christian manuscripts of the time. It has also been a symbol of the multicultural heritage of Sarajevo. In working to conserve the book, Hanna discovers clues to its history--an insect's wing, a wine stain mixed with blood, some salt, a single white hair.

In alternating chapters, we get the history of the book, working backward from World War II and the Nazi occupation of Sarajevo, to its origins in a Spain where the Muslims had not yet been defeated, and the Jews had not yet been expelled, and Hanna's intertwined work to uncover that history as well as her discovery of her own, unsuspected family history.

The history is beautifully interleaved into the story, and Hanna's own personal and family history, as well as her difficult relationship with her mother, also unfolds with delicate skill. This is a wonderful book, not to be missed.

Highly recommended.

I borrowed this book from the library. ( )
  LisCarey | Sep 19, 2018 |
Interesting history based on a real book. Kind of a more literate Da Vinci code. A fast, fun book where you learn something! ( )
  Rdra1962 | Aug 1, 2018 |
Brooks does an admirable job of creating a story around this illuminated Jewish text. I thought it was a bit slow in spots but otherwise clever. ( )
  ghefferon | May 29, 2018 |
Yet another book I owe to The Housemate. She's a Brooks fan, and has been recommending March for a while now. When this library book dropped into our shared Kindle library, I thought "Well, why not?" The subject matter, fine art/book conservation, fascinates me, though there was less of that than I might have liked. Still it was engaging.

Brooks tells the story of a book, a beautifully illustrated Haggadah from Sarajevo, through the conservation of the book itself, and also through vignettes about the people who had a hand in its creation, travels, or protection. She travels back in time from the present day through WWII, the end of the Austro-Hungarian empire, the Inquisition, Sephardic Spain, and laterally into the world of art forgery and theft. Each story is well thought out, though some are less engaging than others. And to be blunt I found that the narrative felt a little disconnected because of all the time jumps.

I never got a real feel for Hanna, the protagonist, a fine art conservator and restorer. Her story seemed secondary to the story of the book, and made the romance seem "pastede on." Indeed, none of the characters made much of an impression on me. In the end, it's a serviceable mystery, though even that aspect of it got lost in the shuffle until the end.

People of the Book seems like a story that doesn't know what it wants to be. The elements are all thought-provoking, but the book is not greater than the sum of its parts. It never feels as if there's anything deeper going on.

Do I recommend it? Yes, with reservations. I like Brooks' style, and want to read more of her work, but my caveat here is not to expect too much in terms of a tied-together plot. Just enjoy the stories. ( )
  Tracy_Rowan | May 17, 2018 |
A new favorite! It is such a fantastic surprise when you start a book with no expectations and it becomes a top read. I had never read any of Geraldine Brooks' books before, but I am very much looking forward to the next one.

This novel alternates chapters between the main character who examines and repairs historical books, and the stories of how the book came to the main character throughout history. A wonderful concept that reads as a series of short stories in many ways. I loved the history, the writing style, and the character development throughout the book.

Highly recommended. ( )
  msaucier818 | Apr 9, 2018 |
Showing 1-5 of 424 (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
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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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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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)

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