download People of the BookAuthor Geraldine Brooks – Wildlives.co
5 A new favourite I love it when old stories sound right for their time, and Geraldine Brooksdoes that so well This novel was inspired by the discovery of the real Sarajevo Haggadah, a bookthan 700 years old, so Brooks had a lot of ground to cover and a lot of voices to invent.Her central character Hanna Heath, a rare book expert says about herselfBy linking research and imagination, sometimes I can think myself into the heads of the people who made the book I can figure out who they were, or how they worked That s how I add my few grains to the sandbox of human knowledge It s what I love best about what I do That describes exactly what I enjoy about what Brooks does imagines plausible, informative, entertaining scenarios.Who might have penned the text of the haggadah the Jewish ritual which is read during the Passover Seder meal Who might have painted the illustrations Who is the black woman in a painting, and why is she there Who managed to save this Jewish treasure from the Spanish Inquisition, the Nazis, and the numerous attempts to eradicate all traces of Jewish culture Hanna says about the paper she plans to writeI wanted this one to be different I wanted to give a sense of the people of the book, the different hands that had made it, used it, protected it I wanted it to be a gripping narrative, even suspenseful This novel is all of those things We hold our breath as this small book changes hands on its precarious journey through the centuries Sometimes it s a Muslim, sometimes a Christian, sometimes a Polish orphan fleeing Nazis in the winter snow All are in desperately dangerous situations.This has everything childbirth, torture, intrigue, power, war, greed, compassion and Hanna s own story as well.In 1996, Dr Hanna Heath PhD doctor , an expert Australian conservator of rare books, is invited to Sarajevo to inspect a recently discovered haggadah Brooks does not capitalise it, incidentally It just turned up in the museum, and the unusual illustrations have roused particular interest, as images were generally forbidden in Jewish tradition.Hanna spots the tiniest clues, hoping to belucky enough to find any debris in the binding it s amazing what you can learn about a book by studying the chemistry of a bread crumb Rather than a crumb, she finds a hair and some stains and some missing clasps Hanna s methods are as fascinating as the results of her investigation And there is humour, tooThe art world in England is an absolute magnet for the second sons of threadbare lords, or women named Annabelle Something hyphen Something who dress in black leggings and burnt orange cashmeres and smell faintly of wet Labrador I always find myself lapsing into Paleolithic Strine when I m around them, using words I d never dream of using in real life, likecobberandbonza Meanwhile, her mother, not only a real doctor, but a neurosurgeonI don t just save lives, Hanna I save the very thing that makes us humanis dismissive of Hanna s cultural conservation expertise She is a driven, single minded woman, whose child was a puzzling nuisance Hanna stands up to mum and uncovers her own history where she came from and how and she finds a whole new world of support and respect But professionally, the rug is pulled out from under her when her expertise about the Sarajevo Haggadah is questioned, so she retreats back home to explore the world s oldest culture instead She s embarrassed to discover how ignorant she and everyone else isSo I set myself a crash course and became a pioneer in a new field desperation conservation Great term, and we needof it Desperation Conservation.She tries to put the haggadah story behind her and sets out to catalogue and preserve Aboriginal rock art in situ diverting dripping water away from it, that sort of thing , working as fast as possible in the tropical heat in Arnhem Land, with little communication and limited time before The Wet turns the dirt tracks to impassable mud.So little is known, so little is protected When she s called to the Foreign Affairs office in Canberra from the Arnhem Land cave she s working in, an official mentions he s never been to the Top EndTypical, I thought Probably been to every museum in Florence and yet never seen the Lightning Man at Nourlangie Rock Still, the Sarajevo Haggadah intrigues her, and she feels compelled to agree to the request to go back and face some unanswered questions As her colleague saysI 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 wasthan what divided us That to be a human being mattersthan to be a Jew or a Muslim, Catholic or Orthodox What wonderful stories Brooks weaves around the facts All believable, all fascinating Takeaway messageThat to be a human being mattersthan to be a Jew or a Muslim, Catholic or Orthodox The real book An exceptional novel about a rare book conservator from Australia who researches the Sarajevo Haggadda, an ancient Jewish prayer book Brooks uses the protagonist s research to tell the story of the book backwards from WWII to 1600s Venice to Moorish Spain The modern conservators narrative binds the vignettes together A none too subtle vehicle to highlight the interwoven histories of Christians, Jews and Muslims the People of the Book the novel is also an allegory about learning itself and people s struggles to keep the flame of wisdom alight Original, well researched and provocative, a reader will enjoy the textured characterizations and the personality brimming in each historical sketch. From The Pulitzer Prize Winning Author Of March, The Journey Of A Rare Illuminated Manuscript Through Centuries Of Exile And WarIn , 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 Cle 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 , The Scribe Who Wrote The Text Sees His Family Destroyed By The Agonies Of Enforced Exile And In Seville In , 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 What I do is me, for that I cameThis is grand book Impressive Intriguing Tragic Beautiful From beginning to the end.I don t usually like books on war situations but this book received so many good comments and ratings from Goodreads I decided to go for it I did not regret it.Each chapter is a time jump, to and fro in time And starts with a quote, like this one, page 329 in my book A white hairSeville, 1480My eyes seep sorrow water skins with holes Abid bin al AbrasPart of a review Miami Herald Stellar compelling story Brooks seamlessly moves from the miniscule the tiny specks to examine in human terms the larger events from the thirteenth century and into the twenty first the inquisition, the rise of anti semitism, nazism and the holocaust, religious wars and forces exiles, in Bosnia, Venice, Barcelona and Seville Big five star A sensitive story, crossing borders, crossing time lines.Realistic and poetic at the same time Will be back with , probably in the weekend Highly recommended I wanted to give a sense of the people of the book, the different hands that had made it, used it, protected it. I try to avoid all things popular e.g., I ve never seen Star Wars or Titanic because I know, after all the hype, I can only be disappointed When it comes to books, though, I feel obligated to read what s popular so I can participate somewhat intelligently in the conversation.That being said, although I hoped Geraldine Brook s People of the Book would live up to the buzz, I wasn t too surprised when it did not The book is good, but it is not call up all my friends or readers and recommend it good People has been compared to The Da Vinci Code, but I find that comparison erroneous Although better written than Da Vinci but, come on, a phonebook is better written than Da Vinci , People lacks the plot, mystery, and pizzazz that made Da Vinci a blockbuster.Instead, People is muchreminiscent of Susan Vreeland sGirl in Hyacinth BlueHyacinth follows the provenance of a Vermeer painting People follows the provenance of the Sarajevo Haggadah.As such, the book is divided into several sections Five sections follow the Haggadah back in history to Bosnia, to Austria Hungary, to Italy, to Spain As the title suggests, it is not the book that is interesting so much as what happens in the lives of those people attached to it.These sections are the strongest and most interesting in the book However, for some reason I cannot fathom, some parts are written in first person and some in third This twist seems to serve little purpose other than to distract and annoy the reader.The book s greatest weakness is the contemporary storyline that cushions each section Hanna Heath is a book conservator hired to work on the Haggadah She finds clues in the book an insect, a stain, a hair that reveal its history.Unfortunately, I found Hanna s story to be downright irritating Hanna is 30 years old, has a double bachelor s degree, a master s degree, and a PhD She has apprenticed around the globe, is well published and highly regarded in her field Perhaps I am just jealous, since Hanna and I share the same age and similar academic credentials okay, hers are much better than mine , but Hanna s experience and success is simply not plausible for someone so young.Similarly, everyone Hanna meets from Vienna s chief archivist to Sarajevo s head museum librarian is 30 or under Really How did Hanna and her cohorts pack in so much and become so successful in so few years I could continue my nitpickiness Ozren, the head librarian, speaks flawless English but stumbles over the word hoof , but the point is that Hanna is so unbelievable she becomes a rather unsympathetic character I was farinterested in what happens when she is out of the picture People of the Book is an okay read, but I see no need to trample your friends and neighbors to secure a copy Read it if you have the time and inclination If not . A Hebrew manuscript created in fifteenth century Spain has been saved from the ruins of a bombed library Hanna Heath, who specializes in the conservation of medieval documents, is hired to repair and preserve the ancient manuscript Tiny artifacts found inside the manuscript lead Hanna on a quest to discover how the rare manuscript was created and who risked everything to ensure its safety for five hundred years The author capitalizes on Hanna s passion for her profession Her work on the manuscript is described with such alluring detail that the reader cannot help but experience the same hushed reverence as she does When Hanna looks at the manuscript, she seesthan paper and ink She sees the story behind the book s creation she senses the hands of every person who made it, held it, cherished it What others see as blemishes or trash a red stain, a salt crystal, a white hair lost in the folds of the binding Hanna sees as clues to the people of the book Hanna s story alone is strong enough to carry the reader through a captivating journey, but what makes this book so beguiling is the integration of multiple stories from various other characters spanning from 1480 to 2002 All of the varied narratives are masterfully woven together for optimal plot pacing In a way, the book reads like a collection of short stories, but a common thread the ancient manuscript ties everything together into one beautiful tapestry While People of the Book doesn t offer the same richness of prose as the author s other novels, there are moments where dazzling language emerges Often this language is employed to give an intimate, artful description of the manuscript itself, such that People of the Book sometimes feels like a love letter to the act of slowly crafting a masterpiece Blue intense as a midsummer sky, obtained from grinding precious lapis lazuli carried by camel caravan all the way from the mountains of Afghanistan White pure, creamy, opaque There was yellow made of saffron That beautiful autumnal flower, Crocus sativus Linnaeous , each with just three tiny precious sigmas, had been a prized luxury then and remained one, still. Other times, the writing is vivid and immediateHe continued speaking quietly, in short, undramatic sentences No light A fractured pipe Rising water Shells hitting the walls It was left for me to fill in the blanks I d been in enough museum basements to imagine how it was how every shell burst that shook the building must have sent a rain of plaster falling over the precious things, and over him, too, into his eyes as he crouched in the dark, hands shaking, striking match after match to see what he was doing. Fundamental themes woven throughout the book are as provocative and meaningful today as they were five hundred years agoI have spent many nights, lying awake here in this room, thinking that the manuscript came to Sarajevo for a reason It was here to test us, to see if there were people who could see that what unites us wasthan what divided us That to be a human being mattersthan to be a Jew or a Muslim, Catholic or OrthodoxWith rich character narratives and a deep veneration for artifacts, People of the Book sweeps readers away on a grand, emotional adventure that crosses the globe and spans centuries. The story of an extraordinary book and the people who surround it.And I did not enjoy it.My reaction to this one was a huge surprise I adored Geraldine Brook s Year of Wonders and I thought this would be an easy hit for me.I think the problem is fairly simple never connected with the main character I loved Anna from Year of Wonders I couldn t stand Hanna.The small details of her work that she found so absorbing, I didn t enjoy.I didn t like how she treated people sometimes I thought she seemed rather arrogant.I also didn t like how the timelines bounced around from character to character I was listening to People of the Book as an audiobook Without being able to look back and check, I found myself getting confused when I stopped in the middle of a passage and picked it up again after a work day.Brook s writing is just fine Again, I can t believe I didn t like this.Highly recommend Year of Wonders I give this a solid pass. There s nothing bad about this but there s nothing exciting about it either I d describe it as assembly line fiction A novel that is designed to be a crowd pleaser It never strays from formulaic commercial boundaries The story is well plotted and researched The prose is professional but never inspired The characters are on the bland side, each one with a predictable problematical relationship The author has won the Pulitzer prize so I was expecting something much braver andliterary I reached page 120 and realised I would much rather be reading Cormac McCarthy. This is an awful book.I expected great things from Brooks March is a book I treasure but this novel is a third rate Da Vinci code, written with about the same amount of skill.The premise is captivating a 500 year old haggadah is found in Sarajevo in 1996, and the novel sets out to explore the book s journey across Europe in those intervening years Along the way, the haggadah acts as an entry point into the tumult, crisis, and unspeakable violence experienced by Jewish communities across Europe Yet the novel does not live up to the premise The focus is not upon the haggadah or the people who have handled it between 1480 and 1996, but rather upon the Australian conservator called in to restore it in Sarajevo The details of where the haggadah has been are important because Hanna, the conservator, is writing an essay about its journey, and she ll gain academic and professional prestige from doing so Hello, cultural appropriation For example why had an illuminator working in Spain, for a Jewish client, in the manner of a European Christian, have used an Iranian paintbrush Clarissa s identification of this anomaly had been great for my essay It had given me an excuse to riff on the way knowledge had traveled amazing distances during the Conveivencia, over well established routes linking the artists and intellectuals of Spain with their counterparts in Baghdad, Cairo, and Isphahan 321 We are actually supposed to clap our hands with glee on Hanna s behalf at that point, I think Once Hanna s expertise about the haggadah is questioned, she gives up her work as a conservator of old, European and Middle Eastern texts, and instead starts saving Australian Aboriginal art from being destroyed by mining companies She has an assistant he s Aboriginal, but it s Hanna who we re supposed to identify and sympathize with, feeling pleased that she s a white superwoman, saving people from themselves.There are other truly problematic issues of race in the text The first character of color we encounter is a Rasta cab driver who smokes ganja and who won t drop her at Scotland Yard in case he gets caught for using drugs We meet a man Raz who is part African American and part Hawaiian, and whom the protagonist observes was one of those vanguard beings of indeterminate ethnicity, the magnificent mutts I hope we are all destined to become given another millennium of intermixing 141 Yep, that s right, she just called him a mongrel The depictions of Jewish, Muslim, and Christian faith are so broad brushed i don t know what to think it s like a child s paint by numbers for major world religions.And of course, in the tradition of Dan Brown, it s a love story Within a few pages of beginning the book Hanna s sleeping with the Muslim curator of Sarajevo s major museum, and by the end she s overcome her aversion to the idea of a long term relationship and is ready to be with him Whoop dee doo In conclusion UGH. A tip from one of my daughter s teachers lead me to the works of Geraldine Brooks, a two time recipient of the Pulitzer Prize for literature Being the non fiction connoisseur that I am, I first devoured her memoir Foreign Correspondence Deciding not to limit myself to only one of her books, I chose People of the Book, her fictionalized history of the Sarajevo Haggadah Hanna Heath is a Sydney book conservator who has been chosen by the Sarajevo National Museum to rebind the city s famous Haggadah in anticipation of the museum s reopening Spurred on by her research, Heath s travels take her to Harvard, London, Vienna, and back to Sarajevo later on in order to pinpoint the codex s travels If the book only centered on Heath s quest in present day, it would still merit a five star book of intrigue How fortunate that this is not the case Brooks intersperses Heath s quest to discover the haggadah s and her own history with chapters on each of the haggadah s stops over the last 500 years As Heath discovers artifacts while researching, Brooks takes us back in time to World II Sarajevo, Vienna, Florence, and pre inquisition Spain The pages are filled with vivid language each describing an epoch of the haggadah s illustrious history Of course being fiction, Brooks ties up both Hanna s and the haggadah s loose ends with a relative happy ending I grewandmesmerized with the books twists and turns, and the pages read quickly in the book s second half Where would Heath s quest lead next Read on and discover the haggadah s path through history As someone who rarely reads fiction, I am delighted with my choice of both book and author as the one to lead me back to the world of storytelling Brooks writing is first rate and I look forward to reading manyof her novels I would highly recommend this book to anyone in search of a quality historical fiction novel.