Thursday, August 20, 2009

Babbling about Books--Thursday--People of the Book

People of the Book
Author: Geraldine Brooks
Publisher: Viking Publishing

Before I began this book, I had heard several different opinions. “It’s hard to follow,” or “It’s wonderful.” It turns out People of the Book was both of these opinions.

This book is a fictionalized history of the famed Sarajevo Haggadah. A Haggadah is the book used to set the order for the Jewish Passover Seder every year. I had the privilege of visiting Israel in 2000 and purchased a copy of a Haggadah. It’s one of my treasures that I plan on passing down to my children.

People of the Book is an interwoven account that begins in 1996 with an Australian book expert. Her job is to restore the priceless book. As she works on it, she begins to find clues to its history. Wine stains, a butterfly wing, salt, and a white begin to tell the tale that takes the reader through centuries of intrigue. The Inquisition, World War II, and other gripping eras make for a remarkable tale.

The characters show the humanity and evil of each generation and religious viewpoint. The chapters flip from past to present to past to present. A variety of protagonists and antagonists each take a chapter, and then People of the Book reverts to the life of Hannah the Sarejevo Haggadah restorer. In addition to a multitude of characters, it reveals the thoughts of Christians, Jews, and Muslims.

My recommendation on People of the Book is to check out the Amazon reviews. Also, read the online historical information on the actual Sarajevo Haggadah. Then make a determination if this is book for you. Geraldine Brooks won the Pulitzer Prize for her book March, which I loved, but I think I liked People of the Book even more. However, “It’s confusing. It’s wonderful. It’s both.”

Happy Reading,


suzi.wollman said...

Hi, Susanne! What's a "white"?

Wine stains, a butterfly wing, salt, and a white begin to tell the tale

Susanne Scheppmann said...

Good catch Suzi. It should read a "white hair."