Customer Reviews for

People of the Book: A Novel

Average Rating 4
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Most Helpful Favorable Review

21 out of 23 people found this review helpful.

A reviewer

In 1996, Sydney, Australian resident Hanna Heath receives a call from the UN as they want to use her rare book conservator expertise. Apparently the renowned Sarajevo Haggadah, thought destroyed during the Bosnian War, has been found. Harriet is euphoric as she knows ...
In 1996, Sydney, Australian resident Hanna Heath receives a call from the UN as they want to use her rare book conservator expertise. Apparently the renowned Sarajevo Haggadah, thought destroyed during the Bosnian War, has been found. Harriet is euphoric as she knows the value of this incredible ancient Hebrew tome with its images.-------------- Although a loner whose only love is rare books, when Hanna meets the ┬┐savior┬┐ Muslim librarian Karaman, they are attracted to one another. Still it is the book that holds her enthralled as she begins to uncover other artifacts of the past buried inside the pages (white hair, insect wing, salt, and a wine stain) and items missing (lost fasteners). Each tells a unique story about who held the precious Sarajevo Haggadah.-------------------- PEOPLE OF THE BOOK is an interesting tale that uses the discoveries by Hannah to take the reader back in time to meet those who handled the ancient tome in various eras like 1940 Bosnia, 1480 Seville, and 1492 Barcelona, etc. Each entry provides a historical conflict between a person protecting the book and those wanting to defile the book. Throughout this superb fiction tale is the underlying message that the time for the Jews, Muslims and Christians to unite in peace is now not tomorrow as all have more in common than the differences that divide them.------------ Harriet Klausner

posted by harstan on December 9, 2008

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Most Helpful Critical Review

8 out of 14 people found this review helpful.

The book cover was beautiful. After that the story was lacking

A beatiful cover. No discerible plot and terrible storyline structure. First we are in a museum studying books then all of a sudden in Nazi Germany the story then evolved to a troubled family member. The storyline is all over the place without an organization towards...
A beatiful cover. No discerible plot and terrible storyline structure. First we are in a museum studying books then all of a sudden in Nazi Germany the story then evolved to a troubled family member. The storyline is all over the place without an organization towards a plot. Since I am a person that enjoys reading, I cannot remember the last time I did not finish a book. The storyline was so erratic and unfufilling, I earnestly tried to keep reading and reached the middle of the book. At that time I came to the realization it was no longer worth my time or effort to continue. I closed the book and do not intend upon picking it up again.

posted by 1525125 on June 27, 2009

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  • Posted July 9, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    The journey of a rare illuminated manuscript through centuries of exile and war

    Man, I love big, fat books in which I can totally get lost. And this book, spanning multiple countries over 500 years, is the ultimate saga covering art, religious persecution, book conservation, and more. I know that the length of the book can seem intimidating, but readers who are interested in these themes will not be sorry they read it.

    Interspersed throughout Hanna's narrative in 1996 Sarajevo are the stories of the various people throughout history who were in some way connected with the survival of the ancient Haggadah. Each period we visit in the book's history corresponds with a fragment or small object found by Hanna's conservation efforts of the ancient book. On the journey, readers will encounter war, discrimination, prejudice, and tradition that lasts for centuries.

    The Hagaddah in the book is in fact based on a real object, the Sarajevo Hagaddah, written around 1314 in Spain.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted October 27, 2009

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    I Also Recommend:

    Excellent story. Great writing. Good read.

    People of the Book is a fascinating story about a beautiful, rare book which has survived centuries of threatened destruction only to be saved time and again by the people who have been captivated by it. The story's main character, Hanna, is a rare-book expert and conservationist who is called to Sarajevo to study the Sarajevo Haggadah and learn all she can about this brilliant masterpiece. In her examination of the book she finds several small, seemingly inconsequential clues as to where the book has been and whose lives it has touched. The author cleverly weaves together chapters dedicated to each clue, i.e. "The White Hair," with chapters of Hanna's modern-day struggles to unearth the stories associated with the clues all while discovering some of her own tragic family history.

    The characters of the book are well-developed and entirely believable. Hanna and her mother have a loveless, often caustic, relationship which becomes even more troubled when Hanna discovers secrets of her family history that her mother has kept from her all of her life. The mother-daughter dynamic is frustrating and sad, but realistic.

    The stories surrounding the clues Hanna finds in the Haggadah offer fascinating glimpses into the lives of those living in Italy, Bosnia and surrounding areas during various times of anti-Semitic waves of violence throughout the centuries from the late-1400s to World War II. For many readers, these brief glances into the past will open their eyes to a long, history of violence and hatred toward a people that is hard to understand, but necessary to remember.

    People of the Book was a thoroughly enjoyable read from beginning to end. It was very well written and incredibly intriguing. Often in books with more than one story line, one story will lack the ability to keep the reader just as enthralled as the parallel story. Such was not the case with People of the Book. Learning the stories of the people who unknowingly left clues in the Haggadah was just as engrossing as following Hanna as she discovered the mysteries of her own family history and what the Haggadah meant to her. People of the Book is recommended to anyone who enjoys being captivated by an excellent story and learning a bit of history at the same time.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 1, 2008

    Love Story of a People, a Book, a Woman

    Inspired by her experiences as a journalist in Sarajevo, Geraldine Brooks breathes life into the history of a rare illustrated Hebrew manuscript, the Sarajevo Haggadah. People of the Book spans centuries and continents to follow the guardians of the Haggadah as they flee war and persecution, often with little but the clothes on their back and their precious artifact. Muslims, Catholics, Jews and atheists take their turns defending the art, literature and culture encompassed in the small, fragile volume. The religions that set The People of the Book apart have their common roots in the pictures and stories in the Haggadah. Every event in the novel resonates with our news today, as cultural treasures, individuals and ethnic groups are being destroyed by the same ancient divisions and hatreds, and the same greed for power and wealth that endangered the book and its keepers over hundreds of years. A story of manuscript conservation and scientific inquiry which could easily be dry and boring vibrates with energy and life in this unforgettable novel. The people of the book are fascinating characters living in interesting times and their lives are relevant to ours, their choices and decisions speak to the greatest issues of our times.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 30, 2014

    Between 1 and 5 I would give it a 4. So I highly recommend this book.

    I enjoyed People of the Book. It was very interesting. The idea of being able to follow the Book throughout history, is what drew me in. The main character's job was restoring old books and manuscripts. The reader was able to become part of the story by following through the centuries and the people who cared for The Book. Evey nationality and religion were involved in keeping the book safe. 1GMAof3

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  • Posted March 29, 2013

    A good read, but requires focussed concentration.

    Geraldine Brooks is a favorite author. This book is well-researched, historically interesting, but jumps around more than her novels usually do. It's a good, absorbing read, but not nearly as gripping as her "Caleb's Crossing" or "Year of Wonders." I occasionally found my mind wandering on this one. She does pull character connections together nicely. This novel is reminiscent of Michener's "The Source," in that it follows more than one level of history. It is currently the subject of a town libary reading group, and I'm not certain that it is the best choice of Brook's works. If you like this book, you are apt to LOVE her others beforementioned.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 26, 2013

    Couldn't put it down

    This is a fascinating story of an ancient book and historical speculation about the people who created and protected it. I thoroughly enjoyed it and considered the story to be plausible.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 3, 2012

    people of the book

    Remarksbly literate and absorbing, moves through history flawlessly, the characters jump of the page with reality,

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 1, 2012

    Good book

    Good book

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 4, 2013

    Higly recommend

    Great story

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  • Posted October 17, 2011

    Great Read

    Great discussion book for a book club. I loved how the story went back and forth in time. All the chapters tied together to make for a very interesting and educational read. Also a very uplifting book.

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  • Posted September 11, 2011

    A well crafted and intriguing novel!

    Geraldine Brooks weaves an entrancing tale across a centuries-old book (real book, but this novel is fiction) through a book conservator. Poignant and intelligent against the historical background of Jewish persecution from the middle ages through the 20th century.

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  • Posted May 28, 2011

    Very Good Story

    For anyone who read A Year of Wonders. This book is written in a different style froom AYOW, which just goes to showcase Brooks' versatile writing style and her depth of knowledge and research whatever her chosen time period and subject matter.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 20, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    Not Your Average Read

    This is an interesting read that reawakened my thinking to the degree I take my religious freedom of choice for granted. I enjoyed the adventure and recommend it to anyone looking for a glimpse into the past suppression of books.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 14, 2010

    Worthwhile Read

    I enjoyed teh People of the Book. The plot is creative and different and the characters are strong. I enjoyed the way the chapters go back and forth between the current and the history. However, I don't think it is as good a read as her other two books.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 30, 2010

    People of the Book

    Another good read by Gerladine Brooks

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 30, 2010

    fascination read

    worth reading

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  • Posted January 17, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    Great writing!

    I really liked the plot of this book. The layered story tracing the various people who were in possession of the book has been done before but I thought Geraldine Brooks brought a fresh approach in that each person told the story from their heart. Tying the story to places that are not everyday places made it interesting beyond the story itself. Her writing is also pleasant to read but insightful and creative.I am very interested to read other books by this author.

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  • Posted November 14, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    The Haggadah

    People of the Book is not a page turner, a suspense novel, or an adventure story. Author Brooks has taken what little is known about the Sarajevo Haggadah, with a focus on a few tiny artifacts evidently left behind, inadvertently, by some of the people who handled it in the past. The skeleton of the story hangs upon the stabilization of the book by Hanna Heath, a book conservationist working in the 1990's. As she discovers such minutia as a feather, a stain, and an insect wing, the author inserts compelling chapters in which their presence might be explained. It is these chapters, which begin during the second world war and gradually regress to the early medieval period, that make People the compelling historical novel that it is. The history of the Haggadah parallels that of the persecution of the Jews, but many of the major characters in each era are Christian or Muslim. In the end, it becomes clear that the production and preservation of a great religious work of art relies on the cooperative efforts of people of many faiths. This is a message that could not be more timely, and this is a book that is a pleasure to read and ponder.

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  • Posted October 10, 2009

    I Also Recommend:

    Not your average mystery!

    Geraldine Brooks writes historical fiction well and this is the best. It is a story which weaves the Sarajevo Haggadah into a fascinating mystery.
    The characters are interesting though not all of them are sympathetic. Many readers may not like Hanna but she reminded me enough of me that I felt like I understood her.
    There is an interview with Geraldine Brooks in the back of the book which discusses her journey in writing it.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 5, 2009

    great for book clubs and discussion

    Loved writing style and story.

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