Monday, April 6, 2009

People of the Book

Geraldine Brooks based this amazing novel on the story of an actual book called the Sarajevo Haggadah (a book which describes how the Passover Seder is to be performed). Hanna Heath is an expert in old books - a serious expert. She is invited to Bosnia to analyze a rare volume and try to determine its authenticity and its origin. Using tiny artifacts found in the book (a hair, a piece of an insect wing, salt, and a wine stain) to trace its history.

The story is told backwards with Hanna's experiences interspersed with glimpses into the book's past, the most recent events explored first. The Haggadah survived some of the world's most tragic moments and been protected by some very brave individuals, several of them not Jewish. Hanna's family life has been less than ideal and as she studies the Haggadah she is forced to confront some of her most difficult relationships.

People of the Book was an intriguing and painful book to read. Some of the scenes I couldn't even get through because they were so disturbing. The interweaving of Hanna's life and the backwards progression of the book worked very well. I have enjoyed all of Geraldine Brooks' other books and this was no exception.

I will say though, if you want a much better review of this book, scroll down and see my sister Corinne's thoughts!

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