Monday, August 29, 2011

People of the Book by Geraldine Brooks

People of the Book by Geraldine Brooks was a very interesting book. The book follows the fictional character Hanna, a conservator of old books, as she stabilizes & studies the Sarajevo Haggadah, a real Jewish book that is over 500 years old. As Hanna explores the book, she finds various types of damage & small objects (such as an insect wing) which she takes to professionals she knows in order to have them identified. As she learns about each incident of damage or object, the story changes from that of Hanna to a story describing how that damage or object came to be in the Haggadah. Although Hanna doesn't know the exact stories, the reader learns not only the details of the damages or objects but also the stories of the people associated with them. The stories of the Haggadah start with the most recent one when the book survived World War II & proceed in reverse chronological order until the book was made in Spain & even before it was even bound. These stories were like mini-books in themselves--lengthy descriptions of the people & their circumstances, ranging from Sarajevo during World War II to Spain during the Inquisition.
I enjoyed this book mainly for its stories of the Haggadah's past, but Hanna's story as she worked with the Haggadah was its own story also. Instead of actually reading this book, I listened to the audiobook that was narrated by Edwina Wren. I admit that a lot of my enjoyment of People of the Book came from the narrator. Since Hanna, an Australian, tells her story in first person, the narrator is Australian so listening to her accent was enjoyable. Also, though, the narrator used several accents throughout the book as characters from Sarajevo, Italy, Spain, & more places appeared in the stories. I also enjoyed these accents used by the narrator. While listening to the audiobook of People of the Book made the book even better for me, the book itself is a good story, & I would definitely suggest it to anyone looking for a good historical fiction book.

1 comment: