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People of the Book

by Geraldine Brooks

Inspired by the true story, this is a history of the Sarajevo Haggadah - the Hebrew codex, one of the earliest illuminated medieval Hebrew book. The book itself had an interesting life - in 1941 it was smuggled from the museum by an Islamic scholar and hidden till the end of the World War II and during Bosnian war rescued by the Muslim librarian during the shelling and hidden again. Not much is known about the book itself, except that it was made in fourteenth century Spain. Geraldine Brooks tells us the missing fragments of its journey. Part of the story is narrated by Hanna Heath, rare books expert who was asked to restore it to its former glory. She is finding clues about book's past hidden in the binding and tries to learn more about its history. The other part of the book tells us all these missing stories. We are retracing book's journey from Sarajevo to Vienna, then to Venice during the inquisition, through its journey through Spain to the very source of its origin. We are told the story of the book and people who lives its affected, who left their traces in it.
I enjoyed this book and its pace, the slow uncovering of its mysteries and voices of different people behind them. The historical part of the narration is also the story of people's survival in the times of the great suffering, deeply moving and beautifully told. Hanna, the contemporary narrator was less interesting character for me and her relations with her mother less moving.

Suggested by Kate, London

Tagged with: amazing exciting fascinating readable



Although the story was interesting, I found the present day narration really annoying - it seemed as though she was trying to use "Australian-speak" to formulate an idealistic modern Australian girl - and I don't know many that use so many colloquialisms! Other than that, very readable. However, I must say that I preferred her "Foreign Correspondence" much more!
I really enjoy Geraldine Brooks style of writing. The two reviews listed above really say it all-this really is well worth reading. as are all of her titles.
Anne, Geelong
I agree with everything Kate says. It was a truly gripping read, full of historical detail, well-crafted. The inter-weaving of different historical periods was very clever. I did find Hanna a convincing character, and was as interested in her life and loves as much as the book's history. It was excellent!
Janni, Stratford-upon-Avon

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