People of the Book: A Novel (Google eBook)

Front Cover
Penguin, Jan 1, 2008 - Fiction - 416 pages
208 Reviews
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View our feature on Geraldine Books’s People of the Book.

From the Pulitzer Prize–winning author of March, the journey of a rare illuminated manuscript through centuries of exile and war

In 1996, Hanna Heath, an Australian rare-book expert, is offered the job of a lifetime: analysis and conservation of the famed Sarajevo Haggadah, which has been rescued from Serb shelling during the Bosnian war. Priceless and beautiful, the book is one of the earliest Jewish volumes ever to be illuminated with images. When Hanna, a caustic loner with a passion for her work, discovers a series of tiny artifacts in its ancient binding—an insect wing fragment, wine stains, salt crystals, a white hair—she begins to unlock the book’s mysteries. The reader is ushered into an exquisitely detailed and atmospheric past, tracing the book’s journey from its salvation back to its creation.

In Bosnia during World War II, a Muslim risks his life to protect it from the Nazis. In the hedonistic salons of fin-de-siècle Vienna, the book becomes a pawn in the struggle against the city’s rising anti-Semitism. In inquisition-era Venice, a Catholic priest saves it from burning. In Barcelona in 1492, the scribe who wrote the text sees his family destroyed by the agonies of enforced exile. And in Seville in 1480, the reason for the Haggadah’s extraordinary illuminations is finally disclosed. Hanna’s investigation unexpectedly plunges her into the intrigues of fine art forgers and ultra-nationalist fanatics. Her experiences will test her belief in herself and the man she has come to love.

Inspired by a true story, People of the Book is at once a novel of sweeping historical grandeur and intimate emotional intensity, an ambitious, electrifying work by an acclaimed and beloved author.

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Outstanding writing and story telling. - LibraryThing
A complex plot; often confusing. - LibraryThing
I love the cover art. - LibraryThing
It was quite interesting, and I love Brooks's writing. - LibraryThing
And the ending was a tad too contrived. - LibraryThing
Each diversion from the major plot was fascinating. - LibraryThing

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - janerawoof - LibraryThing

A fictionalization of the story of the Sarajevo Haggadah. A haggadah is a book used at the Passover seder, which retells the story of the Biblical Exodus. There were two strands of the story: one in ... Read full review

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - mancmilhist - LibraryThing

This is the first book by Geraldine Brooks I have read and it tempts me to read more of her work. Hanna, the main character, is a restorer of ancient books and is invited to restore the Sarajevo ... Read full review

All 22 reviews »


An Insects Wing
Feathers and a Rose
Wine Stains
A White Hair

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About the author (2008)

Geraldine Brooks is the author of Year of Wonders and the nonfiction works Nine Parts of Desire and Foreign Correspondence. Previously, Brooks was a correspondent for The Wall Street Journal, stationed in Bosnia, Somalia, and the Middle East. END

Bibliographic information