People of the Book

People of the Book by: Geraldine Brooks

Published: 2008

# of pages: 372

Quote: "'It was here to test us, to see if there were people who could see that what united us was more than what divided us. That to be a human being matters more than to be a Jew or a Muslim, Catholic or Orthodox.'" -Ozren p. 361


This is Brooks' third novel, written after Year of Wonders and March. I liked People of the Book more than March, but not as much as Year of Wonders. Her latest novel is rich in history and culture. It's fascinating how much information Brooks was able to convey throughout the novel without overloading the reader.

The story is anchored by Hanna, a modern bookbinder/conservator. She is offered a job to work on an ancient Hebrew book, a job that changes her life when she accepts. Hanna finds several clues on the pages of the book which she then investigates to learn more about where and when the book has traveled. She unfolds many stories for the reader, although she is often left in the dark about the details. Stories are told about Jews, Christians, and Muslims who have all had an impact on the priceless book.

The Hebrew manuscript, the Sarajevo Haggadah, is a real book, but Brooks does an amazing job filling in the gaps with fictional details. I enjoyed learning about the true historical events that took place during the book's lifetime and the fictional characters and their lives kept me even more interested. The book was very fast paced, switching from Hanna's life to the lives of historical characters. In a way, this enabled me to stay interested, but it also prevented me from truly caring about the characters. I found that I wasn't hooked into any of the stories, but I still enjoyed reading them.

I found it very interesting that all of the characters had similar qualities through sins. Obviously everyone sins, but I wonder why Brooks concentrated so much on pointing that out when she only had a limited time to tell each character's story. It made me respect the characters even more, because even though they were hiding their sins, they still cared enough about a religious document to protect it. Also, perhaps hiding their sins allowed them to be able to hide the book. It did link all of the characters. No matter what religion each character was associated with, they were all the same underneath.

I recommend this book to all adults who enjoy history, a mystery, science investigations, or a good read. There were adult situations in this book so I don't recommend it to young adults.


Other Reviews:
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1 comment:

Nymeth said...

I've had this book on my wishlist ever since I read Ursula Le Guin's review. It sounds like something I'd really enjoy. And I need to get around to reading Geraldine Brooks' other books too.

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