Friday, February 10, 2012

Book Review: People of the Book

Good morning, friends! Happy Friday!

Have I ever told y'all how much of a sucker I am for Jewish fiction? It's true. I was sucked into Philippa Gregory's writing because of the very first book I picked up: The Queen's Fool. It's about a Jewish lady-in-waiting at the court of Catherine of Aragon {Catholic, and inquisitive about it, if you know what I mean}. Some of my favorite books are still The Chosen and The Promise by Chaim Potok {and everything else he's written}. You get the picture.

So, of course, I couldn't resist People of the Book by Geraldine Brooks.

From Goodreads:

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-si├Ęcle 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.
Y'all, I loved this book. A lot. It's kind of like a Jewish/less scandalous version of the DaVinci code. No shock-value illuminations about the history/lineage of revered religious figures. Just the histories story of a centuries old Haggadah {a kind of prayer book for Passover}.

It's colorful, and full of well-written characters. You buy into the book fairly quickly and want to finish as fast as possible. I sat in my car {this was an audiobook} hoping that I could get to a point where I could get out. That's the audiobook equivalent of "just one more chapter!"

Pick it up. You won't regret it!


  1. You know, I never read the DaVinci code, but my husband really liked it! I may have to see if he's read this one too.

  2. This sounds GREAT! I am adding it to my list.

  3. I read this book a few years back, and while I don't remember a lot of the details do remember enjoying it. I tend to really like Jewish historical fiction as well. I'm sure being Jewish has a lot to do with that! But as for one of my favorites, you have to try the Rashi's Daughters books. I absolutely LOVED them, and I get the feeling you probably would as well!

  4. Hi, I'm a new follower here! I found you via a comment you left on Awsomely Awkward. I really love your blog and this book has been on my list to read for ages! I also have a blog that focuses on books, reading, and every other bookish thing :)

    Megan @ Storybook Love Affair