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People of the Book

by Geraldine Brooks

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
9,693484731 (3.92)880
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 binding, she unwittingly exposes an international cover up.… (more)
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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)
    mrstreme: Similar history of how museum workers scrambled to save pieces of art during wartime
  3. 50
    Girl in Hyacinth Blue by Susan Vreeland (whymaggiemay)
    whymaggiemay: Both well written, and both follow an art object from end to beginning, through the hands of those who once owned it.
  4. 20
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  5. 20
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  8. 43
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    Eat_Read_Knit: 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.
  9. 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)
  10. 00
    A Delightful Compendium of Consolation by Burton L. Visotzky (Osbaldistone)
  11. 00
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  12. 00
    The Secret Book of Grazia dei Rossi by Jacqueline Park (Smiler69)
  13. 11
    The Books of Rachel by Joel Gross (StarryNightElf)
    StarryNightElf: Epic saga tracing the path of an object connected to those of Jewish descent.
  14. 00
    Melmoth by Sarah Perry (RidgewayGirl)
  15. 00
    The Gilded Page: The Secret Lives of Medieval Manuscripts by Mary Wellesley (darsaster)
    darsaster: Non-fiction examination of Medieval manuscripts and the people who created them.
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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 880 mentions

English (471)  Spanish (5)  Dutch (3)  German (2)  Italian (1)  Portuguese (Brazil) (1)  Finnish (1)  All languages (484)
Showing 1-5 of 471 (next | show all)
The contemporary plotline was annoyingly sentimental and manipulative, so much so that I plowed through the last third of the book. I wouldn't read another book by this author. ( )
  lschiff | Sep 24, 2023 |
People of the Book is about the Sarajevo Haggadah, an illuminated medieval Hebrew manuscript. It is very unusual because it was created in Spain at a time when Jewish belief opposed illustrations in books, because it was believed that they violated scripture. The manuscript itself is real, but its history is mostly unknown, giving Brooks the opportunity to create a fictional history for it.

The story opens in contemporary times with Hanna Heath, a book conservator, working under tight security to restore the manuscript. While working on it, she finds several small artifacts that may help to unlock some of the manuscript's history. Hanna's story provides the framework for the novel, and the artifacts tie to several interwoven stories that reveal the history of the manuscript. These take place in the known locations where the real manuscript appeared: medieval Spain, Venice in 1609, Vienna in 1894, and Sarajevo in WWII and during the 1990's.

I thought this was an interesting book and I enjoyed it overall. I was especially interested in the book conservation and the investigation into what the artifacts that were found could reveal about the manuscript. There is a theme throughout the book showing antisemitism in multiple places and times, and people who bravely fight against it. Unfortunately, I thought Hanna's story was overly dramatic, and her romance didn't really catch me. I also wasn't crazy about the story set in Venice. Given the subject matter and the fact that the book's dedication is "for the librarians," I wish I had liked it more. ( )
  atozgrl | Sep 16, 2023 |
This is a wonderful book. A slight lack of stylistic flair is made up for by meticulous attention to detail and a fearless ambition. Brooks places the genocides of the twentieth century in a historical context in a manner that affirms the better aspects of human nature, rather than dwells on the tragedy of the persecution of a people. The main characters are occasionally drawn with broad brush strokes, but they are never unsympathetic. I will certainly be searching out other works by Brooks. ( )
  robfwalter | Jul 31, 2023 |
Loved it.
Easily moved into position as one of my favorite books of all time. ( )
  blueskygreentrees | Jul 30, 2023 |
Puoi trovare questa recensione anche sul mio blog, La siepe di more

I custodi del libro cerca di immaginare e ricostruire la storia della Haggadah di Sarajevo, un libro che sembra aver avuto una vita piuttosto turbolenta, visto che si pensa sia nato intorno al 1350 a Barcellona e che sia finito nei Balcani seguendo le tristi vicende del popolo ebraico. In generale, la Haggadah è una forma di narrazione del Talmud: tra quelle più rilevanti c’è la Haggadah di Pesach, che viene letta durante il Seder, un momento del rituale della Pasqua ebraica durante il quale si racconta della liberazione dalla schiavitù del popolo ebraico.

Con una storia così affascinante spero che possiate capire il mio sconcerto quando, appena al terzo capitolo, Brooks ci infila una storia d’amore tra la restauratrice della Haggadah di Sarajevo e il suo custode. Ma che me ne frega? Io voglio sapere tutto di questo libro: era iniziato così bene con un sacco di dettagli interessanti sulla restaurazione e sulla conservazione di questo genere di oggetto e poi mi ritrovo questз che si fanno gli occhi dolci. Son contenta per loro – per carità! – ma insomma la storia di un’antichissima Haggadah mi sembrava prioritaria rispetto al loro attacco di ormonella.

Proseguendo nella lettura, mi è diventato evidente che lo scopo di Brooks era dimostrare, tramite la storia della Haggadah di Sarajevo, l’importanza della collaborazione tra esseri umani anche di culture diverse e di come questa collaborazione dia dei frutti meravigliosi, sia da un punto di vista prettamente culturale, sia dal punto di vista della solidarietà umana (compreso fate l’amore e non la guerra, evidentemente). Un messaggio indubbiamente molto bello e al quale in questi giorni sono particolarmente sensibile, ma che mi ha messo i brividi per il modo in cui Brooks lo ha veicolato.

Il fatto è che Hanna, la restauratrice, ha tutte le caratteristiche della poser progressista: si pensa una donna di mentalità aperta, ma poi pensa e fa cose che hanno fatto esplodere il mio disagiometro. Per esempio, ha un amico che definisce di razza indefinita e antesignano dei magnifici meticci che popoleranno la terra da qui a un millennio perché ha un albero genealogico dove di recente si sono intrecciate parecchie caratteristiche fenotipiche diverse. Non paga, siccome questo tizio ha una moglie figlia di altrettanta varietà fenotipica, Hanna afferma di morire dalla voglia di vedere i loro figli, che sarebbero stati perfetti come pubblicità della Benetton. Pensa quanto sarà contento l’amico di sapere che lui e la sua famiglia sono solo una bella bandiera da sventolare…

Insomma, sembra che questo libro sia una delle pietre che lastricano la strada delle buone intenzioni che porta all’inferno: vi consiglio quindi di resistere alla tentazione di leggere questo romanzo sulla Haggadah di Sarajevo e di cercare altrove testi migliori. ( )
  kristi_test_02 | Jul 28, 2023 |
Showing 1-5 of 471 (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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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 binding, she unwittingly exposes an international cover up.

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