It is easy to see why Catherine Zeta-Jones purchased the rights of this book to turn it into a movie. One of the best books I have ever read -- Geraldine Brooks writes an amazing story of one very special book, and the lives of the people that may have touched it. Weaving a fictional story based on true events, "People of the Book" moves through the present day of a book restorer, who is asked to work on the Haggadah, a Jewish book on display in Sarajevo, saved by a Muslim historian in World War II, potentially through the Spanish Inquisition, and also potentially saved in the Jewish Ghettoes of Venice. I sawy "potentially" as the author has created additional plot lines that help explain certain items that are in the book that are found by the book restorer -- a butterfly wing, salt, wine, etc. She has created a fictional account of each of the hands that have come into contact with the book, and what life may have been like during their times. Each section is fluidly written, and the adventure that the book takes is unbelievable, and the ending is amazing. The present day main character is a young woman with her own history of family troubles, and it is well told. I ended up researching even more on the Haggadah and am amazed by it; research about it as well, and you will be all the better for it!
This book caught my eye for its unique cover artwork so I picked it up. Wow - the story insides surpasses the painting tenfold. I loved this novel. Its a wonderful story of a book that is 500 years old - the people who made it, touched it and became part of it. Your main narrator is the book conservator who has been called to evaluate it and repair any damage. She finds small clues to its history as she does her work - an insect wing, a white hair, wine spills and sea salt. As she investigates each of these we are taken back in time to see where these clues came from and along the way we learn the stories of several people connected to the book throughout history. Not only did I love the story but the way the author writes is magically - she has the gift to make her prose almost like fine poetry.
It's been quite a while since I've read a book that left me thinking "Wow!", but this one did. I had really enjoyed the book "March" by this author, so looked forward to reading "People of the Book." And she didn't disappoint. The author wove a wonderful tale about a fascinating topic, and I loved this historical aspect of it. Books written in two time periods can leave you feeling dazed and confused if it's not done well, but I thought Geraldine Brooks did it seamlessly. Two thumbs up.
I can't say enough good things about this book. I devoured it in three days and I will read it again. It's heart-breaking, gorgeous and gripping. I loved the archaeological feel to it as we learned about the book's past and met it's holders. The characters - even in the short chapters - are well rounded and fully realized. And the main character - other than the book itself - is likeable and tough; a strong woman whom I wanted to succeed.
All in all this was very enjoyable and educational reading. I agree with the other reviewer that the fact that this book had some basis in truth made it so much better. Read this book.
First Line: I might as well say, right from the jump: it wasn't my usual kind of job.
Australian rare book expert Hanna Heath has been asked to conserve the beautifully illuminated fifteenth-century Sarajevo Haggadah, a priceless Hebrew manuscript thought to have been destroyed during the fighting in Bosnia.
"As many times as I've worked on rare, beautiful things, that first touch is always a strange and powerful sensation. It's a combination between brushing a live wire and stroking the back of a newborn baby's head."
As Hanna examines each page with great care and wonder, she discovers a series of tiny artifacts left behind in the manuscript: a fragment of an insect's wing, wine stains, salt crystals, and a white hair. These microscopic bits are the keys to unlocking the centuries' old mysteries of the Sarajevo Haggadah and the catalysts that will change Hanna's life forever.
As the insect's wing, then the wine stains, then the salt and hair are analyzed, we learn the history of the ancient book and the lives of the people who had it in their care. Anyone who has ever picked up a book, caressed its cover, and ruffled through its pages wondering about the identities of previous owners or all the places that book has been will absolutely love People of the Book. As Brooks takes us through the centuries, each time period and each caretaker comes to vivid, aching life.
I was deaf and blind to everything around me as I read this book. It's not the first time author Geraldine Brooks has done this to me, and since her latest book (Caleb's Crossing) is on its way to my door, I don't think it will be the last. She is one of the supreme storytellers of her time.
What Hanna does the last time she's with the Haggadah made me cry and made me smile. It also made me think. Around the world today books are under attack from technology, economy, ignorance and indifference. How many of us would be willing to do whatever it takes to ensure their survival?
People of the Book is an apt title for this rich, intricate novel written by Pulitzer-prize winning Australian author Geraldine Brooks. Initially Australian rare book expert Hannah Heath provides a contemporary frame for multiple strands of historical narrative when she is commissioned to examine and restore the Sarajevo Haggadah after the Bosnian war. Famed as an extremely rare early Jewish text illuminated with images, the Haggadah yields clues to its past during Hannah's examination. Each specimen--a butterfly wing, a missing clasp, saltwater stains, wine mixed with blood, a delicate hair--launches a tale in reverse chronological order back into the book's past, following its geographical journey back to its creation in Convivencia Spain. Of course, only we readers are privileged to see Brooks sift each layer of the book's origins, as Hannah is left searching for clues and confronting her own past. Brooks creates distinct but interwoven backdrops for each setting, gracefully showing although there is much about the past which is lost, strands remain which connect us with it--and with each other. Ultimately Hannah becomes a 'person of the book' as she helps write the book's contemporary chapter. A beautifully written historical novel based loosely on a real artifact, People of the Book combines rich historical detail, book conservation art and science, and real emotions in flawed but likeable characters into a rare treat. The Red Violin starring Samuel L Jackson is a similarly structured and equally wonderful film.
This was a very fascinating book.I loved they way she wrote it.I really enjoyed reading about in accent Hebrew book that went all over the world and survived and how the things end up in the pages of this book and how they got there and how it happned.I also liked the twist in the book never would have guessed it.
This is a terrific read. I'm not a history person, normally that stuff bores me. But the way the history of the book is presented was very compelling and drew me into the story. I enjoyed every moment of this book.
A woman who restores ancient documents becomes engrossed in the 500 year old history of a Jewish Haggadah. The book moves back and forth among the centuries to identify all the people who touched it and risked grave danger to preserve it and pass it on to future generations. Nicely written. Due to the structure, it's a bit disjointed.
Amazing story. Ms. Brooks has interwoven past and present in such an amazing way. While fiction, I never doubted for a moment that at some point in someones life the events happened. Sometimes hard to read from the standpoint of being reminded of humanities inhuman obsurdities, but could not put it down.
This is a well-written, interesting and gripping story. I must admit, though, that I did not finish it. One of the inter-woven story lines was a bit grim for me. It was a best-seller and I can see why, but just not my cup of tea.
I tripped across this book accidentally and am so glad that I did. It was intriguing, informative and all-engrossing. The charachters were so well-drawn and the travel of the book so mysterious that I found myself riveted. There is nothing better than a well-told story that also leaves you with far more knowledge finishing it than you had when you started to read it. A book for curious minds who enjoy the well-written word.
A fantastic story of a book and the people who are entrusted with keeping it safe through the centuries. The author writes in a way that pulls you into each person's story and makes you feel as though you are there experiencing the plights of each custodian. A real page-turner that I could not put down.
I thought this book was pretty good. I especially enjoyed the parts where they described the book and how it was made. The fact that the story is based on an actual book made it that much better. Even though I found it interesting, it was a little slow in parts. I also didn't like how every section in the book had an unpleasant part to it. I know life isn't all nice and easy but I think it made the book a little depressing and less enjoyable.
The November selection for my Bookclub. This interesting novel was inspired by a true story. There is a very old, old book hundreds of years old. This story takes us to different times during the life of the book, the people of the book. Although it took me a while to read I look forward to reading another book by Geraldine Brooks.
Interesting idea -- tracing the individuals who interacted with an historical book -- but somewhat repetitive and tedious. Alternating chapters of present day researcher and the history of the book. I finished it for a book club discussion. Probably would not have finished it on my own.
I found that I could not put this book down. It documents the journey of the Sarajevo Haggadah from its writing in the 1400's in Spain to its restoration in modern times in 1996. Learning history through the journey of a book certainly makes it alot more alive and interesting. I would recommend this book for anyone interested in history and certainly for any Jewish reader.
I always enjoy Geraldine Brooks. She prepares thoroughly on her subject matter and I always learn something. I enjoyed the intrigue in this book and found it similar to another fave "Shadow of the Wind".
I was apprehensive about reading this book after a friend of mine tried to read it and declared that she didn't care what or who was found next. However, I found it all fascinating! I come from a Christian background and know relatively little about other religions. Brooks has helped me make some "ah ha" connections amongst the three "cousin" religions in a way that only a good story teller can do. I appreciate the history entwined in the mystery. My only criticism is that the modern main character is lacking, but perhaps this was the author's intent so that the reader can see her flaws more clearly.
This book is what I'd call a literary not commercial. It's not an action packed fast read. Some might consider it boring. I LOVED IT! The writing and characters are superb. The research into rare books and how they are preserved was fascinating. The history and lives of the people who influenced the book were well researched and fascinating. I wish that every one of the stories from the book's history could be done as a full novel. Rarely have I read short stories where the characters were so exceptionally full rounded. The stories of the people were so real, convincing and unique. I never realized how much the Jewish people have suffered; however, the novel doesn't oversentimentalize what happened and I think that was a good thing. Brooks allows the reader to come to her own conclusions. The conflict between the mother and daughter interesting and realistic. I have tried reading "The Year of Wonders" and "March" but I couldn't get too far because I got so turned off. Particularly March--he was so self righteous. In my honest opinion, this is her very best book. I do plan to revisit the others in case I didn't give them a fair chance. Brooks is an exceptional researcher and writer. I highly recommend this book.
I thoroughly enjoyed Ms. Brooks' book, "Year of Wonders", and this one was another winner. The novel traces the history of the Sarajevo Haggadah - a famous Jewish codex illustrated with striking images created centuries ago. The story takes off from the present, where Hanna Heath works to analyze and conserve (not restore) the treasure, and takes us back through the ages to important events in the book's past. Each event is a story in and of itself, filled with rich, multi-layered characters all enduring unfathomable horrors which add to the inherent value of the haggadah. Hanna's story, which will become part of the history of the book, is not filled with the wretchedness of the earlier keepers of the book, but it is poignant and interesting. I learned something about the conservation of books and truly enjoyed the mystery aspect added by clues found within and on the pages of the codex.
Each little story (vignette?) leaves you wanting a bit more and, for that reason, this novel is not quite as engaging as "Year of Wonders", but I definitely recommend it and rate it as a 3.5 to 4.0.