Thursday, April 03, 2008

People of the Book by Geraldine Brooks

Published in 2008. 372 pages.

People of the Book was March's selection for Book Buddies. I was not familiar with either the book or the author before this, but I am very glad that I participated!

The novel, by the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of March, is an imagined history of the Hebrew codex known as the Sarajevo Haggadah. A story about Aussie book conservator Hanna Heath is interspersed with five stories about the Hebrew manuscript itself, moving backward through time from World War II to 1480.

Other than some mild disappointment by the ending of the book, I enjoyed this novel greatly. To me the message both of People of the Book and the Sarajevo Haggadah is summarized well by Ozren, one of the book's characters:

You know I am not a religious man. But Hanna, I have spent many nights, lying awake here in this room, thinking that the haggadah came to Sarajevo for a reason. It was here to test us, to see if there were people who could see that what united us was more than what divided us. That to be a human being matters more than to be a Jew or a Muslim, Catholic or Orthodox. [p. 361]

You can see my responses to some of the Book Buddies discussion questions about People of the Book (and some of our other reads too) here. But be forewarned: there are spoilers there, as the discussion is based on the premise that the participants have already read the book.



  1. I saw this book at the store a few weeks back and it looks really interesting, but I didn't want to shell out for the hardcopy edition. I've heard really good things about March, so I was interested in reading your review. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

  2. Great review! I found your comment about being disappointed in the ending interesting. A few years back, I and several others read her, Year of Wonders, and disappointment over some of the ending was a very constant comment. I wonder what it is about her? I might still read this one, but definitely when it comes out in paperback.
    Happy Reading!

  3. I am looking forward to reading this book. I loved March and I've heard really good things about Year of Wonder, too.

  4. I love that quote from the book, it sums it up well. I did read a lot of the discussions at Book Buddies, but I got the book so late it was too overwhelming to catch up! I have the next selection on hold at the library, hopefully I will get it soon enough that I won't get too far behind!

  5. Ooh, I keep forgetting to go to Book Buddies to talk about this book! Thanks for posting a link.

  6. I think this book would make a great read due to its very interesting timeline and that fact that it contains the element of war. Such books that have descriptions of battles and valiant warriors totally intrigue and impress me. Recently, i have been reading the famous fantasy novels of CS Lewis- The Chronicles of Narnia, and am highly impressed by the author's imagination as well as the few well-described war sequences in the stories.
    In fact, Disney and Walden are coming up with the latest Narnia movie-Prince Caspian, this May 16th. It promises to be awesome by the looks of the trailer. The very hot BenBarnes is playing the character of Prince Caspian!! I am soo awaiting this release.

  7. I enjoyed this book, as well as the others of hers that I have read. The only thing I really didn't like was the main character, Hannah - I thought she was really cold. I'm glad you liked it!

  8. Another one of those books I somehow feel I 'should' read, but probably won't get to. :)