PDF/EPUB Geraldine Brooks Ò Ò People of the Book ePUB ☆ People of eBook ↠

From the Pulitzer Prize–winning author of March the journey of a rare illuminated manuscript through centuries of exile and warIn 1996 Hanna Heath an Australian rare book expert is offered the job of a lifetime analysis and conservation of the famed Sarajevo Haggadah which has been 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 a caustic loner with a passion for her work discovers a series of tiny artifacts in its ancient binding—an insect wing fragment wine stains salt crystals a white hair—she begins to unlock the book’s mysteries The reader is ushered into an exuisitely detailed and atmospheric past tracing the book’s journey from its salvation back to its creation In Bosnia during World War II a Muslim risks his life to protect it from the Nazis In the hedonistic salons of fin de siècle Vienna the book becomes a pawn in the struggle against the city’s rising anti Semitism In inuisition era Venice a Catholic priest saves it from burning In Barcelona in 1492 the scribe who wrote the text sees his family destroyed by the agonies of enforced exile And in Seville in 1480 the reason for the Haggadah’s extraordinary illuminations is finally disclosed Hanna’s investigation unexpectedly plunges her into the intrigues of fine art forgers and ultra nationalist fanatics Her experiences will test her belief in herself and the man she has come to love Inspired by a true story People of the Book is at once a novel of sweeping historical grandeur and intimate emotional intensity an ambitious electrifying work by an acclaimed and beloved author


10 thoughts on “People of the Book

  1. says:

    A Review of People of the Book or Why I Hate the KindleBrooks's novel is a fictionalized account of the real Sarajevo Haggadah a Jewish religious text noteworthy for its inclusion of an illuminated manuscript and for its survival through turmoil and the hostility towards Jews that has erupted time and again over the centuries in Europe and Eastern Europe The novel is told from the perspective of Hanna Heath an expert in book restoration who is called in to restore the text for display While working on the book Hanna finds a few curiosities that she keeps and carefully labels a butterfly wing a small sample of some wine stained pages salt crystals a white hair and the notation of some missing decorative clasps As Hanna investigates each of these items and their origins to gain insight into the Haggadah's past the reader is presented with the story of each noteworthy item in its own stand alone chapter stories that Hanna herself can never learn as the evidence she finds only provides her with a basis for conjecture and hypothesis Each story is uniue and not necessarily connected to the others While the novel has been compared to The Da Vinci Code it's a far cry from Robert Langdon's action adventure chase through Europe in pursuit of an explosive secret that might change religion as we know it Instead the pacing is slower the pacing of a scholar motivated by the desire to simply know even if definitive answers aren't available And though the novel explores the nature of JewishMuslimChristian relationships throughout the ages it doesn't seek to lecture about morality or about what one should or should not believeDespite enjoying it I will admit that People of the Book has some flaws The story of Hanna Heath and her strained relationship with her ultra feminist professional mother is cliched and not given enough room to become a realistic exploration of a such a complicated relationship In addition a few plot points are contrived but I can forgive that simply because the book appealed to the book lover in me which is a nice segue way into WHY I HATE THE KINDLE and all other eReader devicesFirst off don't lecture me about how this is the future and I need to embrace it If you own a Kindle fine Enjoy I'm not suggesting that the privilege be taken away from you However I'll not be tempted by the siren song of fashionable technology I love books I love the way they feel I like physically seeing the progress I've made as I turn page after page I love the cover art I love how books look on a shelf in home decorating magazines I delight in trying to identify the books on the shelves of well appointed dens and studies I like to select which books are going on vacation with me agonizing over which ones might suit my mood And when I see someone reading a book I will often become a creepy Peeping Tom of sorts as I try to catch a glimpse of the book cover so I can see what they're reading I judge you by what book you're reading if you're reading Neil Gaiman I want to know you; conversely if you're reading Twilight I may be silently hoping that you get to join the undead but in a permanent dead sort of way So much of that is lost with an eReader And after reading People of the Book I'm aware of how much history can be lost Not just the tiny fragments that get wedged into the bindings and between the pages but the history of the people who owned and cherished the book A world where physical books become obsolete and everyone has an entire library on one portable reading device is also a frightening possibility How easy then for the next dictator to destroy our beloved texts Smash one eReader and hundreds thousands of books are permanently lost far efficient than book burnings It's the impermanence of it all that scares me Not only that I think that obsession with books recognizing and identifying with others because you notice the Christopher Moore font on the book cover or the tell tell cover art of a Tim O'Brien paperback helps create a reading community that we're connected to and a part of How many chance encounters spontaneous conversations or just the simple nod of respect to complete strangers with whom we briefly feel connected when we realize we're reading the same author on the same bus how many of those moments are lost when we're all carrying around the same reading device that indicates no individuality or reading preference to those around us? Will we feel as open to asking a complete stranger What are you reading? Obviously not all books are as important as the Haggadah but I like to think that we all cherish our own uaint libraries and someday perhaps they will tell the world about who we wereCross posted at This Insignificant Cinder


  2. says:

    This is an awful bookI expected great things from Brooks March is a book I treasure but this novel is a third rate Da Vinci code written with about the same amount of skillThe premise is captivating a 500 year old haggadah is found in Sarajevo in 1996 and the novel sets out to explore the book's journey across Europe in those intervening years Along the way the haggadah acts as an entry point into the tumult crisis and unspeakable violence experienced by Jewish communities across Europe Yet the novel does not live up to the premise The focus is not upon the haggadah or the people who have handled it between 1480 and 1996 but rather upon the Australian conservator called in to restore it in Sarajevo The details of where the haggadah has been are important because Hanna the conservator is writing an essay about its journey and she'll gain academic and professional prestige from doing so Hello cultural appropriation For example why had an illuminator working in Spain for a Jewish client in the manner of a European Christian have used an Iranian paintbrush? Clarissa's identification of this anomaly had been great for my essay It had given me an excuse to riff on the way knowledge had traveled amazing distances during the Conveivencia over well established routes linking the artists and intellectuals of Spain with their counterparts in Baghdad Cairo and Isphahan 321 We are actually supposed to clap our hands with glee on Hanna's behalf at that point I think Once Hanna's expertise about the haggadah is uestioned she gives up her work as a conservator of old European and Middle Eastern texts and instead starts saving Australian Aboriginal art from being destroyed by mining companies She has an assistant he's Aboriginal but it's Hanna who we're supposed to identify and sympathize with feeling pleased that she's a white superwoman saving people from themselvesThere are other truly problematic issues of race in the text The first character of color we encounter is a Rasta cab driver who smokes ganja and who won't drop her at Scotland Yard in case he gets caught for using drugs We meet a man Raz who is part African American and part Hawaiian and whom the protagonist observes was one of those vanguard beings of indeterminate ethnicity the magnificent mutts I hope we are all destined to become given another millennium of intermixing 141 Yep that's right she just called him a mongrel The depictions of Jewish Muslim and Christian faith are so broad brushed i don't know what to think it's like a child's paint by numbers for major world religionsAnd of course in the tradition of Dan Brown it's a love story Within a few pages of beginning the book Hanna's sleeping with the Muslim curator of Sarajevo's major museum and by the end she's overcome her aversion to the idea of a long term relationship and is ready to be with him Whoop dee doo In conclusion UGH


  3. says:

    A tip from one of my daughter's teachers lead me to the works of Geraldine Brooks a two time recipient of the Pulitzer Prize for literature Being the non fiction connoisseur that I am I first devoured her memoir Foreign Correspondence Deciding not to limit myself to only one of her books I chose People of the Book her fictionalized history of the Sarajevo Haggadah Hanna Heath is a Sydney book conservator who has been chosen by the Sarajevo National Museum to rebind the city's famous Haggadah in anticipation of the museum's reopening Spurred on by her research Heath's travels take her to Harvard London Vienna and back to Sarajevo later on in order to pinpoint the codex's travels If the book only centered on Heath's uest in present day it would still merit a five star book of intrigue How fortunate that this is not the case Brooks intersperses Heath's uest to discover the haggadah's and her own history with chapters on each of the haggadah's stops over the last 500 years As Heath discovers artifacts while researching Brooks takes us back in time to World II Sarajevo Vienna Florence and pre inuisition Spain The pages are filled with vivid language each describing an epoch of the haggadah's illustrious history Of course being fiction Brooks ties up both Hanna's and the haggadah's loose ends with a relative happy ending I grew and mesmerized with the books twists and turns and the pages read uickly in the book's second half Where would Heath's uest lead next? Read on and discover the haggadah's path through history As someone who rarely reads fiction I am delighted with my choice of both book and author as the one to lead me back to the world of storytelling Brooks' writing is first rate and I look forward to reading many of her novels I would highly recommend this book to anyone in search of a uality historical fiction novel


  4. says:

    What I do is me for that I cameThis is grand book Impressive Intriguing Tragic Beautiful From beginning to the endI don't usually like books on war situations but this book received so many good comments and ratings from Goodreads I decided to go for it I did not regret itEach chapter is a time jump to and fro in time And starts with a uote like this one page 329 in my book A white hairSeville 1480My eyes seep sorrow; water skins with holes Abid bin al AbrasPart of a review Miami Herald Stellar compelling story Brooks seamlessly moves from the miniscule the tiny specks to examine in human terms the larger events from the thirteenth century and into the twenty first the inuisition the rise of anti semitism nazism and the holocaust religious wars and forces exiles in Bosnia Venice Barcelona and SevilleBig five star A sensitive story crossing borders crossing time linesRealistic and poetic at the same time Will be back with probably in the weekend Highly recommended I wanted to give a sense of the people of the book the different hands that had made it used it protected it


  5. says:

    An exceptional novel about a rare book conservator from Australia who researches the Sarajevo Haggadda an ancient Jewish prayer book Brooks uses the protagonist's research to tell the story of the book backwards from WWII to 1600s Venice to Moorish Spain The modern conservators narrative binds the vignettes together A none too subtle vehicle to highlight the interwoven histories of Christians Jews and Muslims the People of the Book the novel is also an allegory about learning itself and people's struggles to keep the flame of wisdom alight Original well researched and provocative a reader will enjoy the textured characterizations and the personality brimming in each historical sketch


  6. says:

    A Hebrew manuscript created in fifteenth century Spain has been saved from the ruins of a bombed library Hanna Heath who specializes in the conservation of medieval documents is hired to repair and preserve the ancient manuscript Tiny artifacts found inside the manuscript lead Hanna on a uest to discover how the rare manuscript was created and who risked everything to ensure its safety for five hundred years The author capitalizes on Hanna's passion for her profession Her work on the manuscript is described with such alluring detail that the reader cannot help but experience the same hushed reverence as she does When Hanna looks at the manuscript she sees than paper and ink She sees the story behind the book's creation; she senses the hands of every person who made it held it cherished it What others see as blemishes or trash a red stain a salt crystal a white hair lost in the folds of the binding Hanna sees as clues to the people of the book Hanna's story alone is strong enough to carry the reader through a captivating journey but what makes this book so beguiling is the integration of multiple stories from various other characters spanning from 1480 to 2002 All of the varied narratives are masterfully woven together for optimal plot pacing In a way the book reads like a collection of short stories but a common thread the ancient manuscript ties everything together into one beautiful tapestry While People of the Book doesn't offer the same richness of prose as the author's other novels there are moments where dazzling language emerges Often this language is employed to give an intimate artful description of the manuscript itself such that People of the Book sometimes feels like a love letter to the act of slowly crafting a masterpiece Blue intense as a midsummer sky obtained from grinding precious lapis lazuli carried by camel caravan all the way from the mountains of Afghanistan White pure creamy opaue There was yellow made of saffron That beautiful autumnal flower Crocus sativus Linnaeous each with just three tiny precious sigmas had been a prized luxury then and remained one still Other times the writing is vivid and immediate He continued speaking uietly in short undramatic sentences No light A fractured pipe Rising water Shells hitting the walls It was left for me to fill in the blanks I'd been in enough museum basements to imagine how it was; how every shell burst that shook the building must have sent a rain of plaster falling over the precious things and over him too into his eyes as he crouched in the dark hands shaking striking match after match to see what he was doing Fundamental themes woven throughout the book are as provocative and meaningful today as they were five hundred years ago I have spent many nights lying awake here in this room thinking that the manuscript came to Sarajevo for a reason It was here to test us to see if there were people who could see that what unites us was than what divided us That to be a human being matters than to be a Jew or a Muslim Catholic or Orthodox With rich character narratives and a deep veneration for artifacts People of the Book sweeps readers away on a grand emotional adventure that crosses the globe and spans centuries


  7. says:

    I edited this book review and added some photos to this older review because this book is being discussed in January 2020 by the GR Diversity in All Forms Book Club led by Mariah Roze You can join the discussion at People of the Book by Geraldine BrooksMost people who like books will enjoy a story about a “book detective” – a female Australian book curatorrestorer who discovers many cultural and microscopic mysteries when she is hired to restore a Haggadah a book of prayers used during the Jewish Passover seder The author takes us back in history see explanations that the restorer can only guess at As you might expect it’s a tale of both beauty and horror ranging from the 1400’s to the present The book restoration is taking place in Sarajevo and the protagonist gets involved with a Bosnian who is taking care of his son who was wounded during the conflict We learn of that area’s recent grim history Added to this is the book restorer’s bitter and embattled relationship with her mother I think I saw them on Jerry Springer leading to the revelation that she herself is Jewish So we have four story themes book detective mother daughter feud happenings in modern Bosnia and the bulk of the book the Jewish diaspora starting with the Spanish Inuisition It is uite well knit together We also get very insightful reading of the landscapes I say this as a geography professor of Bosnia Boston London and AustraliaPhoto of a Haggadah from judaicawebstorecomPhoto of the author from prhspeakerscom


  8. says:

    I try to avoid all things popular eg I’ve never seen Star Wars or Titanic because I know after all the hype I can only be disappointed When it comes to books though I feel obligated to read what’s popular so I can participate somewhat intelligently in the conversationThat being said although I hoped Geraldine Brook’s People of the Book would live up to the buzz I wasn’t too surprised when it did not The book is good but it is not call up all my friends or readers and recommend it good People has been compared to The Da Vinci Code but I find that comparison erroneous Although better written than Da Vinci but come on a phonebook is better written than Da Vinci People lacks the plot mystery and pizzazz that made Da Vinci a blockbusterInstead People is much reminiscent of Susan Vreeland’s Girl in Hyacinth Blue Hyacinth follows the provenance of a Vermeer painting People follows the provenance of the Sarajevo HaggadahAs such the book is divided into several sections Five sections follow the Haggadah back in history—to Bosnia to Austria Hungary to Italy to Spain As the title suggests it is not the book that is interesting so much as what happens in the lives of those people attached to itThese sections are the strongest and most interesting in the book However for some reason I cannot fathom some parts are written in first person and some in third This twist seems to serve little purpose other than to distract and annoy the readerThe book’s greatest weakness is the contemporary storyline that cushions each section Hanna Heath is a book conservator hired to work on the Haggadah She finds clues in the book—an insect a stain a hair—that reveal its historyUnfortunately I found Hanna’s story to be downright irritating Hanna is 30 years old has a double bachelor’s degree a master’s degree and a PhD She has apprenticed around the globe is well published and highly regarded in her field Perhaps I am just jealous since Hanna and I share the same age and similar academic credentials okay hers are much better than mine but Hanna’s experience and success is simply not plausible for someone so youngSimilarly everyone Hanna meets—from Vienna’s chief archivist to Sarajevo’s head museum librarian—is 30 or under Really? How did Hanna and her cohorts pack in so much and become so successful in so few years?I could continue my nitpickiness Ozren the head librarian speaks flawless English but stumbles over the word “hoof”? but the point is that Hanna is so unbelievable she becomes a rather unsympathetic character I was far interested in what happens when she is out of the picture People of the Book is an okay read but I see no need to trample your friends and neighbors to secure a copy Read it if you have the time and inclination If not


  9. says:

    The story of an extraordinary book and the people who surround itAnd I did not enjoy itMy reaction to this one was a huge surprise I adored Geraldine Brook's Year of Wonders and I thought this would be an easy hit for meI think the problem is fairly simple never connected with the main character I loved Anna from Year of Wonders I couldn't stand HannaThe small details of her work that she found so absorbing I didn't enjoyI didn't like how she treated people sometimes I thought she seemed rather arrogantI also didn't like how the timelines bounced around from character to character I was listening to People of the Book as an audiobook Without being able to look back and check I found myself getting confused when I stopped in the middle of a passage and picked it up again after a work dayBrook's writing is just fine Again I can't believe I didn't like thisHighly recommend Year of Wonders I give this a solid pass


  10. says:

    There's nothing bad about this but there's nothing exciting about it either I'd describe it as assembly line fiction A novel that is designed to be a crowd pleaser It never strays from formulaic commercial boundaries The story is well plotted and researched The prose is professional but never inspired The characters are on the bland side each one with a predictable problematical relationship The author has won the Pulitzer prize so I was expecting something much braver and literary I reached page 120 and realised I would much rather be reading Cormac McCarthy