People of the Book - A Book Review | Kylie Purtell - Capturing Life

Wednesday, 11 November 2009

People of the Book - A Book Review


People of the Book by Geraldine Brooks, Published by Harper Collins, Paperback, ISBN: 9780732280383

I finished reading People of the Book a few weeks ago but just haven't gotten around to posting a review. Until now.

People of the Book wasn't a bad read. I really liked it when I first started.

What B.o.B says -
When Hanna Heath gets a call in the middle of the night in her Sydney home about a precious medieval manuscript that has been recovered from war-torn Sarajevo, she knows she is on the brink of the experience of a life-time. A renowned book conservator, she must now make her way to Bosnia to start work on the restoring the Sarajevo Haggadah - a Jewish prayer book - to discover it's secrets and piece together the story of its miraculous survival. But the trip will also set in motion a series of events that threaten to rock Hanna's orderly life, including her encounter with Ozren Karamen, the young librarian who risked his life to save the book.

What I really enjoyed about this book was the story Brooks weaves around the Haggadah. As Brooks' herself says " it's a work of fiction inspired by the true story of the Hebrew codex known as the Sarajevo Haggadah". The plot and characters are pure fiction, but some of the historical elements regarding the Haggedah are true to its story of survival. We are transported from Sarajevo in 1940 to Vienna in 1894, and then on to Vienna in 1609. From Tarragona in 1492 to Seville in 1480, we read about how certain elements of the Haggedah came about nad how it got to where it was going.

In between all this we learn about Hanna and her life, her Surgeon mother and non-existent father. At first I didn't mind the bits with Hanna, especially when she is searching for answers to the questions the Book has posed, but by the end I almost feel as if Hanna's story was distracting me from the real story, the history of the Haggadah. Despite the fact that its made up, Brooks' has researched her subject so thoroughly that you can believe that, while maybe not entirely true, it could be how the Haggedah came into being.

The writing is first-class, if a little too try-hard 'aussie' in places, but I did like the fact that Hanna is an Aussie, as is the author.

I give this book a Thumbs Up for the historical half and a Thumbs Down for the Hannah part. The ending was almost too obvious, and almost too convenient. If you read it you'll know what I mean. I would recommend this though, if you see it and need something to pass the time.

1 comment:

  1. Great review! I have this in my TBR together with a couple other books by Brooks.

    ReplyDelete

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