People of the Book: A Novel

Front Cover
Penguin, Jan 1, 2008 - Fiction - 400 pages
266 Reviews

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.


From the Hardcover edition.

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LibraryThing Review

User Review  - catzkc - LibraryThing

History, books and even a couple of cats towards the end! All of my favorite things together in one! I almost gave this 4 stars simply because there is tragedy after tragedy - not a happy read! But ... Read full review

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - jhullie - LibraryThing

Such an interesting tale of how the Haggadah came to be, working backwards through time to the beginning of its existence. This is a story like no other I have read and it had me enthralled from the first chapter. Read full review

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About the author (2008)

Geraldine Brooks is the author of four novels, the Pulitzer Prize–winning Marchand the international bestsellers Caleb’s CrossingPeople of the Book, and Year of Wonders. She has also written the acclaimed nonfiction works Nine Parts of Desire and Foreign Correspondence. Her most recent novel, Caleb’s Crossing, was the winner of the New England Book Award for Fiction and the Christianity TodayBook Award, and was a finalist for the Langum Prize in American Historical Fiction. Born and raised in Australia, she lives on Martha’s Vineyard with her husband, the author Tony Horwitz.


From the Hardcover edition.

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