Lisa Wolf's Reviews > People of the Book

People of the Book by Geraldine  Brooks
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People of the Book, by Geraldine Brooks, is a multi-layered masterpiece, combining historical fiction with a well-thought-out, perfect-for-book-lovers mystery. The framework of the book is the investigation of book conservator Hanna Heath into the origins of the 500-year-old Sarajevo Haggadah. As she pores through the priceless book, she discovers tiny clues to its past, including an insect wing stuck in the binding, mysterious stains on several pages, and a single white hair. As Hanna uses scientific techniques to unlock the book's secrets, the reader is treated to alternating chapters which slowly reveal the origins of the Haggadah. These backstory chapters move backward in time, each telling a complete story in itself, spanning hundreds of years of history including the Bosnian war, Sarajevo during WWII, the Jewish ghetto in Venice, and the expulsion of the Jews from Spain. The author creates compelling characters for each time period, united across time by their heart-breaking experiences of war and persecution. By the end, Hanna's knowledge and perceptions of the book, and of her own life, are enriched and deepened, and the reader has had both an emotional and intellectual treat.
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