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People of the Book Paperback – 1 Oct 2008

4.1 out of 5 stars 184 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Harper Perennial; 1st Harper Perennial Edition edition (1 Oct. 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0007177429
  • ISBN-13: 978-0007177424
  • Product Dimensions: 13 x 3.2 x 19.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (184 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 15,749 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

'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.' Independent on Sunday

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

'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

'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

‘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 descriptions are sensuous and the story fascinating.' The Times'

“Lively historical novel…Brooks enlivens her page-turner with a clever, urbane narrator…the engrossing details of Heath's book-detecting skills make her a truly likable heroine.” Observer

Review

'These stories have a raw and visceral power. The book is full of historical detail.'

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

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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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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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I found this book such a good read that immediately I had completed it, I ordered Geraldine Brooks, "Year of Wonders". "The People of the Book" tells the story of the creation and survival of a Haggadah, through three historical ages and various European nations. Most interestingly it reveals both strengths and weakness in the three great mono-theistic faiths and acts of sympathy and understanding between them. The nature of the relationship between Hannah Heath, the book conservator and central figure, her mother and ultimately the memory, legacy and family of her father, unknown to Hannah until revealed through her research on this manuscript is handled beautifully. The meticulous detail into the material creation and development of books is a special bonus to any bibliophile.
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Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
A novel about a book, and about the people whose lives are intertwined down the centuries because of it, Geraldine Brooks has created a memorable and magical tale that dips briefly into the lives of a wide range of people who came into contact with the Sarajevo Haggadah, an illustrated book of Jewish prayer that was saved from the conflict in Bosnia as it had been saved so many times before.

The present-day book restorer's exploration of the object she has in front of her opens up windows into the past thanks to small signs and markings she finds: a curious stain, a moth's wing, marks where clasps once were, which the author then spins into tales of what might-have-been, spanning the years and many walks of life. This is a book to spend time over, and the imagery is stunning, little breaths of history coming alive and making this a book within a book.

Its difficult to convey the sense of wonder you get as each layer of the mystery of the Haggadah's past is unfolded, as you go back in time and meet men, women and children who've lived, and sometimes died, and whose interaction with the book have left these tiny marks.

Truly a compelling read, and the insight into the restoration work and the clues mere paper and ink can leave were fascinating, although I was less interested in Hanna's life and loves than in the rest of the tale. Everything was drawn together beautifully in the end however.
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