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 12, 2009

    If you liked The Red Violin, you'll like this book.

    The People of the Book follows the history of an old, re-discovered hagaddah, by way of a forensics librarian. Each chapter tells a different part of the hagaddah's history, including the history of that particular time, through various forensic evidence like stains and other particles.
    If you liked The Girl with the Pearl Earring or The Red Violin, you'll like this one, too.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 11, 2009

    A surprising read

    This book turned out to be much more than I had anticipated. There are many many people, cultures,lives, places and events involved in the book the author writes about. She brings it all together and takes you along with journey.

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  • Posted May 25, 2009

    Fascinating plot but contains graphic torture descriptions

    A skilled and renowned book preservationist is called in to authenticate and repair a unique book. She becomes fascinated with it's history, going to great lengths to discover who wrote and illustrated it and how it has survived against unbelievable odds. The reader gets to come along for the ride as she uses all of the technology available to her to unlock the secrets of the book's past. But beware, the book survived the Spanish Inquisition, and the author doesn't pull any punches when discribing the brutal torture that took place during that time period. That kind of spoiled it for me. Supposedly inspired by a true story.

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  • Posted May 20, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    An intellectual adventure

    In "People of the Book", we follow Hanna Heath, a rare book expert, as she uncovers the mysteries surrounding a beautifully illuminated Hebrew manuscript, the famed Sarajevo Haggadah. As Hanna examines the Haggadah, she uncovers various artifacts from the past that lead her to investigate how the book survived the Inquisitions, the Nazis and several other acts of violence. The rarity of this Haggadah stems not only from its' age but also from the illuminations it contains. Why are they there? Who created them? Another mystery since these types of illuminations are not usually associated with Hebrew texts.
    -----
    The Sarajevo Haggadah is quite real; however, the story told in this novel is one of fiction. Ms. Brooks has created a wonderful account of the Haggadah's survival for the last 500 years. In it we see not only the events that took place but also the people who were either involved in the creation of the Haggadah or in its' protection, regardless of their religious beliefs. As each artifact is researched in the 'present', Ms. Brooks presents us with a flashback account of how that artifact came to be in the book. These flashbacks are accomplished via alternating the chapters between the 'present' and the past. They start with the more recent past and move backwards in time. I thought that this was nicely done.
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    I thought that the novel was well researched/written and I enjoyed reading about the history surrounding the Haggadah. Was their an underlying message? Possibly. One in which Jews, Christians and Muslims can coexist in peace as they once did. I recommend this book to those who enjoy historical fiction, mysteries or Geraldine Brooks.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 18, 2009

    What a great story

    Loved this book and its message.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 2, 2009

    intriging

    A very interesting book, about a book and its journey through hundreds of years.

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  • Posted April 13, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    People of the Book - Excellent Historical Novel

    People of the Book is an excellent historical novel. Even if you aren't into historical novels it is interesting enough by itself to keep you reading to the end. If you're looking for something that will make you laugh your head off - or cry your heart out - this isn't the book that will do it, but you should still find it very enjoyable reading.

    The characters and the story line are very well developed. I'm personally not crazy about stories that flip from present day to previous centuries, but this is the best way this story could be presented.

    Overall, People of the Book is an excellent novel and I highly recommend it.

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  • Posted March 16, 2009

    An amazing journey around the world and accross religions!

    The author cleverly uses facts from a true story and historical facts to take us on a journey around the world wnd through the ages. While going back and forth from modern to ancient time and through various religions is sometimes hard to keep up with, it is hard to put the book down. The fictional portions of the book are so vividly written, it is hard to separate facts from fiction.

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  • Posted March 16, 2009

    I Also Recommend:

    great read

    i enjoyed this book. it reminded me of a few other books like "the geographer's library" but it was more accessible.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 13, 2008

    skillfully integrates the known facts about the Sarajevo Haggada

    People of the Book by Geraldine Brooks, skillfully integrates the known facts about the Sarajevo Haggadah with imaginative recreations of its history. The novel demonstrates Brooks pleasing lyrical prose and conscientious, in-depth research. Unfortunately, the device of moving back and forth between the present and the past is unevenly executed, often jarring the reading from the poetically rendered history to the brash contemporary heroine¿s feud with her mother. There were lesser flaws. The side stories about the protagonist discovery that her father was a Jew added nothing to the plot, and her romance with Orzen based on a one-night- stand seemed tacked on to titillate the reader. Overall the novel is entertaining and informative.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 12, 2008

    A reviewer

    Crossing time and cultures, Geraldine Brooks takes the reader through the life of a very special book, the Sarajevo Haggadah. Her writing is crisp and embroidered with multi-layered mystery that engages the reader through the survival of a unique and beautiful manuscript. Her characters' vividly imagined lives are often studies in courage as Brooks brings watershed periods of local and Jewish history to light with deep respect and sensitivity. The book is well-researched with sufficient detail to enlighten without slowing a quick-paced read. Fortunately Ms. Brooks, a WSJ reporter assigned to the Bosnian War of the 1990's, didn't succumb to the standard media prejudice: 'They're tribal people who have been killing each other for thousands of years. They'll never stop.' This reporter saw human qualities beyond ethnic stereotyping and prejudice during her time in Sarajevo. Brooks writes of courage, hope and dignity during periods of exceptional brutality and prejudice. Two self-indulgent paragraphs detracted from an otherwise stellar effort. Read the book and you will know exactly what I mean. In sum, a great work.

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