Friday, July 10, 2009

Book Review: People of the Book by Geraldine Brooks

Pulitzer Prize winning author Geraldine Brooks’ newest novel, People of the Book, is the captivating story of an ancient and rare illuminated Hebrew manuscript created in 15th century Spain and rediscovered in war-torn Sarajevo in 1996.

Hanna Heath, an Australian rare book conservator, has been called to Sarajevo to analyze and conserve a mysterious codex. When Hanna discovers some tiny artifacts in the book’s binding, she begins to unravel the mysteries of the book’s tumultuous past. In alternating chapters, Brooks tells the story of the book’s journey through Seville, Tarragona, Venice, Vienna and finally to Sarajevo. Throughout the centuries the book is saved numerous times from the destructive forces of Anti-Semitism. Brooks weaves a tale of courage, strength and faith in each chapter as she tells the story of the book’s treacherous journey through time and the brave people who risked their lives to save it from destruction.

In People of the Book, Brooks has created an intriguing and thought-provoking story. Each chapter is populated with well-developed characters and each time period in history is vividly rendered. In this way, each chapter becomes a story in and of itself. It is a testament to Brooks' skill as a writer that she is able to tell these individual stories - from different periods of history, all populated with different characters - and still be able to give each time period, character and storyline an authentic and varied feel.

People of the Book was inspired by the true story of a Hebrew codex known as the Sarajevo Haggadah. While working as a reporter for the Wall Street Journal in Bosnia, Geraldine Brooks learned the remarkable story of survival of this ancient text. I was drawn to this book not only because of my interest in reading and books, but because of my fascination for illuminated texts. The fact that the story is inspired by a real book and real people only served to further pique my interest. I was not disappointed.

I would give People of the Book 5/5 stars (It was amazing).

Image from Google Images


Sue Jackson said...

People of the Book is my book group's selection for September and I've so been looking forward to reading it! I really loved Brooks' book March (about the father of the Little Women during the Civil War) and can't wait to read this one.

Thanks for the review!


cat said...

Oh I agree - one stunning book. Here's my review:

Happy SITS day

Debbie in Nashville said...

Thanks for this review! I have a copy of this book and keep meaning to start it but haven't yet. I want to start reading it now!!

Dee Andrews said...

She is a favorite author of mine! Year of Wonders about the plague is also good, and Nine Parts of Desire, non-fiction about women and Islam is FASCINATING! Loved reading People of the Book while in Spain and Croatia.


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