Laura's Reviews > People of the Book

People of the Book by Geraldine Brooks
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's review
Jun 30, 12

liked it
bookshelves: book-club, courtship, fanfiction, history, mystery, religious-studies, timey-whimy
Read in June, 2012

Once upon a time, I learned from Salmon Rushdie’s Satanic Verses that “The People of the Book” is a polite term used by the Koran for those who were already monotheists before the Angel came down and told the Prophet to “Recite!” It contains, if I recall correctly, an acknowledgement of the common claimed patriarchy of Abraham and the existence of a “revealed” scripture that overlaps, to a non-trivial extent, with the Koran. The People of the Book had a special, privileged status. Worthy of respect and protection.

The title here is a pun. The People of the Book are all People of the Book to varying degrees of devoutness. They are also the people through history who created and preserved a particular sacred book, a particular “Haggadah” that somehow survived five centuries of strife between Abraham’s progeny. Our main bridging character is an Australian book authenticator who thought she sprung from her doctor-mother without meaningful involvement from a male. She is hired to authenticate the book, and as she does so, we see the moments in history that left their marks (sea water, blood, cat hair) on the pages.

We read it in my reading group, and for a reading group book I really liked it. But there was a United Colors of Benetton mojo to the whole thing that made me roll my eyes. The original artist of this Jewish book SPOILER ALERT turns out to be an African Muslim lesbian slave woman whose lover/owner, the Christian queen of a Muslim king, arranges for her to be sheltered in a Jewish doctor’s home before the king is deposed for generally being a wanker. The book was saved by Jews, Christians, an Inquisition priest, Muslims, and even, arguably, a Nazi. Good times.

The book suggests a reason for Mary’s Immaculate Conception --that God would not be reaching his God bits into something as unclean as a normal woman – that I found distractingly enraging.

Anyhoo. Very readable. One of the best uses of Captain Exposition I’ve seen yet.
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message 1: by Traveller (new)

Traveller Oooh-kaaayy..(view spoiler).
I think i'd have to write that down and draw pictures of it to completely get the full relationship... :p

Laura Traveller wrote: "Oooh-kaaayy..[spoilers removed].
I think i'd have to write that down and draw pictures of it to completely get the full relationship... :p"

I find at work that is often a really good exercise!

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