Monday, March 22, 2010

People of the Book

by Geraldine Brooks

Hannah Heath arrives in Sarajevo to restore the Sarajevo Haggadah - an ancient Jewish volume rescued during the Bosnian War. She finds several items in the book - an insect wing, wine stains, salt crystals. As she investigates each item, she discovers the mysteries of the book and how it came to be protected and preserved over the centuries.

But, there is so much more to the book. There are many, many layers to the story
  • There is the modern story of the Haggadah
  • The history and protection of the Haggadah
  • Hannah's journey of self-discovery
  • Hannah's mother's secrets
  • The story of Sarajevo itself
  • Ozren's story of redemption and Werner's destruction

Each layer is woven together to create a beautiful story, alternating from present to past in an effort to fully develop not only the story, but the characters as well. The journey of the Sarajevo Haggadah gives you faith in people, faith in survival and most importantly, faith in peace.

Over time, the book is protected not just by Jews, but by Christians and Muslims as well. It is hidden in a mosque -

"Serif and the khoja took the haggadah into the library of the mosque. They found a narrow place on a high shelf, pressed between voloumes of Islamic law. The last place anyone would think of looking"

It is saved from the Inquisition by a Catholic priest.

"Suddenly, the pen was in his injured hand. He flipped the pages until he found the place. He wrote: Giovanni Dom. Vistorini. That is who I am, in this Year of Our Lord 1609."

It is even hidden in an Israeli Holocaust museum.

"But in the end, the one who looked like a soldier understood me. He smiled at me, very kindly. Then he turned to the others and said, Well, why not? The entire story of this book, its survival until today has been a set of miracles. So why not just one more?"

Excellently written about a new and interesting topic, at least for me, People of the Book drew me in and has kept popping up in my mind long after I finished it.

Rating - A


  1. I totally agree with you. I loved this book very much. Here is my review:

  2. I'm very excited. I acquired this book over the weekend.