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Sunday, April 19, 2009

People of the Book - Geraldine Brooks

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To start I would like to say that this book review is made possible by Julie from FSB Associates. Thank you Julie for the review copy and support to review the book.

My Review:
The book is fantastic. For some reason I am having trouble writing a review for it. I think it is because the book is so well written and so well researched that I think any review is just going to pale in comparison. So I won't try to get fancy. I simply love this book because it is about a book and the passion of the people who risk their lives to save it.

Hannah is a rare book expert and she is in charge of conserving and analyzing the Sarajevo Haggadah. It is a manuscript that has been saved from the 1400's. The book opens as she arrives heavily guarded and escorted to "meet" the famed book and then she begins her examinations of the book. For me this was extremely interesting. She takes a hair, an insect wing and a stain from the book to be evaluated and for the rest of the book she is analyzing and discovering data which reveals some of the possible history of the book. (I might suggest this is not before bed reading, but I am in no way saying it is boring).

The book goes from 1996 to the past, 1800, 1600's, and the 1400's. There is never any confusion as each section is beautiful labeled and quoted. I know sometimes readers don't like to switch back and forth, but I don't think this will bother anyone. These sections are beautiful and even heart wrenching.

There is powerful History of the book being described to us. Powerful segments. I found myself wanting more of these sections as I bonded with the characters and wanted to know more.

The book has a thickness to it... meaning it has heavy parts. Religious oppression, anti-Semitism, slavery, and rape. The book travels through centuries with rich Jewish, Catholic, Christian, and Muslim heritage and cultural depictions. I read the book in sections for weeks. Just a little at a time but I plowed through almost 200 pages in one day and I would just put the book in my lap for a few minutes and think about it. I am pretty sure I will pause over the next few weeks and think more about it.

There are mini themes in the book such as a mother-daughter / family issue. Hannah is not without a man issue in her life either, so there is plenty of story to go with the fascinating story of the book. I did not find it distracting from the main theme. I enjoyed it and found it necessary to break up some of the realities of the history of mankind.

I haven't read a lot of reviews on it for I wanted to form my own thoughts. But I think I did hear mention that it might remind someone oftThe DaVinci Code and I have to say that I would agree, but the writing is so much more intelligent. And I don't mean to say that I didn't ADORE AND LOVE The DaVinci Code because I loved that book.

To hear more of the book and please visit the Authors website here. There are a lot of cool tools and stuff to read there.

Readers guide and map

A conversation with Geraldine about People of the Book

Read B&N editor-in-chief's interview with Geraldine Brooks

Geraldine's essay detailing the WWar II history of the Sarajevo Haggadah, “The Book of Exodus: A double rescue in wartime Sarajevo”, appeared in the New Yorker Dec 3, 2007

Download a printer friendly version of the readers guide

Schedule for signings and presentations

Hear Geraldine read an except from her book on NPR



Teddy Rose said...

Wonderful review Toni! I am really looking forward to reading this.

Susan Helene Gottfried said...

Cool, Toni! My book club is reading this for our April pick -- I'm about 50 pages in and really liking it.

If you haven't read the author's Year of Wonders, be sure you do. Brilliant book.

Anna said...

I've wanted to read this one for a while, and I definitely will after reading your review. Now if only I could tame that TBR pile of mine...

Diary of an Eccentric

Jenn's Bookshelves said...

GREAT review, Toni. I have this on my TBR shelf. It's one of those books that I HAD to have as soon as it was released, but unfortunately haven't gotten around to reading it yet. Your review has caused me to bump it up in the stacks a bit!

bermudaonion said...

That sounds wonderful, Toni. I don't have the book, so I'm adding it to my wish list.

Bonnie said...

I have this on my TBR shelf and look forward to reading it. Great review Toni. I second Susan's suggestion to read Year of Wonders. That is an outstanding book, loved it.

Alyce said...

I'm about halfway through this one. I'm listening to it in my car and it's been excellent so far. My only hope is that I can renew it and finish it because it's due soon. Great review!

Jewish Rantings said...

Thank you for your review. I like you, enjoyed the book. But this is where I disagree. The ending was far fetched and the book to me fell apart. But I enjoyed reading the book till the end. If you would like to see my review at Jewish Rantings I have posted about a month ago.

Kaye said...

Hi Toni, great review, I too enjoyed the book very much BUT I thought the present day Hannah plot line put me off a bit. I really liked the historical parts of the book. Brooks did a great job of setting up anticipation for the book's arrival.

Toni said...

Thank you Teddy. I enjoyed writing it once I got going.

Susan - thank you for the comment. I think it would be a nice story to talk about in chat. I had nominated it for my book club but it didn't get picked.

Anna - I will keep an eye out for your review.

Jenn.. thank you... it will be a good one I think you are going to like all the research stuff in it.

Kathy I hope you get the book. Another nice thing.. It is NOT too long. Just about right.

Bonnie..Thank you for the recommendation. I am going to read the book now.. I have had too many good reviewers refer me to it.

Alyce.. curious as to your thoughts.. can't wait for your review. Wondering if some of the parts are too hard to "hear" on audio.

Jewish Rantings... you know.. I think my review was based on the sum of the books parts...Perhaps I should think on my reviews a couple of days maybe to get a full feeling and flavor. I didn't immediately dislike the ending...I didn't love it.... I think I was still left in the past with the other characters, and a saffron dress and a white hair and all of that.... In hindsight the ending did sort of go wonky. I think if I enjoy a book for 80 or 90 percent.. I am okay with the ending that an author chooses, usually a different or surprise ending doesn't turn me off a whole book. ( Usually) I am going to check out your blog for sure!

Kaye.. I have to say I didn't mind the Hannah side plots. ... but in hindsight the last segment was not my favorite part.

I am loving the book talk and comments.. Thank everyone.

Passages to the Past said...

Toni, that was a kick ass review (pardon my french)!! This is going right on the wishlist. I have her other book, The Year of Wonders though I've yet to get to it...think I'll be bumping her books up! Thanks!

burrum said...

I am reading this book at the moment, as it is one of our set reads for my book group.
Have to agree with the comments made - so easy to read and you feel transported back in time to the eras that the author describes.

I have also read one of her other books - March, which was another good read.

From Oz

kalea_kane said...

Sounds intriguing, Toni! You have written a picture with your review. I think I am going to have to pick this one up!

myletterstoemily said...

that was a great review of a difficult
book to share. she is a wonderful
author, and you would probably love
"the year of wonders", which i enjoyed

it is another weighty subject, the
plague. only a truly gifted writer
could make the plague seem somehow

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