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People of the Book Hardcover – 7 Jan 2008

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 356 pages
  • Publisher: Fourth Estate; First Printing edition (7 Jan. 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 067001821X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0670018215
  • ASIN: 0007177437
  • Product Dimensions: 15.9 x 2.5 x 23.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (169 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 526,173 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Geraldine Brooks was born and raised in Australia. After moving to the USA she worked for eleven years on the Wall Street Journal, covering stories from some of the world's most troubled areas, including Bosnia, Somalia and the Middle East. Her first novels 'A Year of Wonders' and 'March have become international bestsellers, the latter earning Brooks the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. She lives with her husband and son in rural Virginia and is currently a fellow at Harvard University.

Product Description

Review

‘Even more compelling than the detective plot is the novel's portrayal of the harrowing lives of its historical characters. Brooks is a compassionate writer. “People of the Book” is a powerful account of individual resistance to intolerance and the precious value of history. It is also a gripping story.' TLS

‘The epic themes of love and war are her preferred canvas and here she sets up multiple narrative strands to tell the turbulent story of this Haggadah. Anti–Semitism is the momentum propelling the book's extraordinary journey forwards and Brooks evokes her various fraught historical–religious conflicts vividly.' Metro

‘Brooks's extensive research is evident throughout.' Scotsman

'Brooks expertly guides us to the conclusion that the world is made up of only two types of people: those who would destroy books and those who would give their lives to save them. This illuminating novel, like its predecessor, is well worthy of both Pulitzer and prime–time approbation.' Simmy Richman, Independent on Sunday

‘An irresistible subject, given urgency by its timeliness and poignancy by its paradoxicality: for the novel is based on the true story of an ancient Jewish codex saved from the fire by a Muslim librarian. Her performance will satisfy many readers.' Guardian

'These stories have a raw and visceral power. The book is full of historical detail.' F.T. Magazine

‘Set to sweep the board with this moving tale of how an ancient copy of the Haggadah, a Jewish text, survives centuries of war, religious oppression and Nazi greed.' Sainsbury’s Magazine, Book of the Month

Praise for ‘March’:

‘Brooks’s considerable historical research for “March” is pleasingly lightly worn. Her efforts have borne a rich fruit. It is a big, generous romp that manages to make clever use of “Little Women” without suffocating beneath it.’ Sophie Harrison, Sunday Times

‘A tightly controlled novel in which, you sense, every sentence has been carefully weighed and calculated, and Brooks successfully balances narrative leanness with luxuriant language. “March” is that rare species: a serious popular novel that is not afraid to grapple with big ideas.’ Douglas Kennedy, Waterstones Books Quarterly

'Researched with great historical thoroughness, “March” hews faithfully to the spirit of Alcott's original…Louise May Alcott would be well pleased.' Economist

Praise for ‘The Year of Wonders’:

'The “Year of Wonders” is a staggering fictional debut that matches journalistic accumulation of detail to natural narrative flair.' Guardian

‘A lyrically written and emotionally engaging novel.' Independent

'The plot is gripping, I like the psychological subtlety of characters struggling with a shifting world, and it’s packed with historical detail.' Daily Mail

Review

"Sensuous and fascinating." (The Times)

"Brooks is too good a novelist to belabor her political messages, but her depiction of the Haggadah bringing together Jews, Christians and Muslims could not be more timely. Her gift for storytelling, happily, is timeless." (Publishers Weekly)

"Brooks expertly guides us to the conclusion that the world is made up of only two types of people: those who would destroy books and those who would give their lives to save them. This illuminating novel, like its predecessor, is well worthy of both Pulitzer and prime-time approbation." (The Independent on Sunday) --This text refers to the Audio CD edition.

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Customer Reviews

4.1 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

57 of 60 people found the following review helpful By E. Heckingbottom TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 17 Dec. 2007
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Having enjoyed March last year, I anticipated a treat when I picked this book up, and I was not disappointed. If anything, this book is better than her previous work (rewarded with the Pullitzer Prize for fiction.) It was one that I was loathed to put down, and virtually had to force myself to go Christmas shopping rather than continuing to read! What an amazing book!

This novel concentrates predominantly in more modern times, although the 'novel within the novel' takes us back through time; exploring the persecution of the Jews through recent times and back to the Spanish Inquisition.

Hanna, the main character, is a restorer of ancient books who is invited to restore teh Sarajevo haggadah - an ancient text which appears to have been preserved against all the odds. During her time with the book, she discovers several 'clues' to the past history of the book and the people responsible for its preservation. These clues lead her to speculate a bit more about the history of the book - but, meanwhile, the 'book within the book' allows the clues to reveal more of the story to us, the readers.

Other reviewers have expressed disappointment that Hanna herself was not able to uncover the story of the book's history - but for me, that would have been totally unrealistic from the few small clues hidden within, and would have ruined the credibility of this well researched piece of fiction. After all, this book is entitled 'The People of the Book' - so it is totally appropriate that it looks at those involved in the preservation, rather than in the book itself. Nevertheless, hanna's story is beautifully dealt with, and Brooks has still managed to add a couple of intriguing twists to the end of the story.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By N. Gratton TOP 1000 REVIEWER on 13 Dec. 2007
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
The back cover of this book does not adequately describe, or explain, the intricately woven story inside; I am sure that to many the tale of a rare book expert,asked to conserve a 600 year old book would be deemed slightly boring. This book is anything but that. Each chapter cleverly locks together the history of the book, by concentrating on one time period during its history. Each chapter is then a story within a story and this method meant that although several time periods are covered, I was never lost or confused by where we were in time or place, instead the characters and time periods were very subtly linked by the briefest mention of whatever clue to the books history that chapter focused on.

The majority of the book focuses on Hanna, the expert conserver, and not only her findings but her changing relationship with her mother as she herself discovers secrets from her own past. Unlike many who have reviewed this book, I actually found these chapters the most difficult, they were written in a very different style to those set in the past, one which I found did not hold my attention as well. The first chapter, which places us in Bosnia in 1996, seemed very technical and was mainly centered on giving us a picture of Hanna as someone very focused and dedicated to her work by telling us of the level of research she had gone into to understand the conservation of books. However, I found this chapter slightly confusing and after reading the second, felt that the two should have been placed in the opposite order, with the Haggadah being introduced before its conserver.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Ralph Blumenau TOP 500 REVIEWER on 21 Feb. 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The author, like the professional book-conservator Hanna, the central figure in this book, is an Australian, and I imagine she has endowed her character with some autobiographical characteristics, which include the occasional tangy Aussie way of speaking.

The Book of the title is a Haggadah (a book Jews use during the celebration of Passover at home). This particular one is the famous Sarajevo Haggdah, a book that really exists and is so called because, though this illuminated manuscript was produced in Spain in the 14th century, it has finished up in Sarajevo. There is much information about it, as well as reproductions of the pictures, on Google.

The book opens with Hanna's visit to Sarajevo in 1996, when the city was still under Serb bombardment, on a United Nations mission to stabilize the condition of the book. Geraldine Brooks, who was a newspaper correspondent there during the Bosnian war, can paint a convincing picture of Sarajevo at that time. She also loves books and has done meticulous research on the art of book conservation, and on what can be deduced about a book's history from microscopic examination, not only of the parchment and the colours, but also from tiny foreign bodies that have been trapped in the book. From that kind of detective work, she then proceeds to trying to trace the book's earlier history, moving backwards from the present.

The chapters now alternate between historical fiction and Hanna's own narrative. Hanna's includes some subplots, one of them about the difficult relationship between her and her mother, and that is alive and very well done. In the historical sections, however, the style is sometimes more wooden and sometimes a little clunky in the way they communicate well-researched historical information.
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