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Archive 08-19 GR Discussions > People of the Book Discussion

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message 1: by Tera, First Chick (new)

Tera | 2563 comments Mod
Starting this thread now because I am going to be out of town tomorrow. Feel free to start discussing today if you wish.

message 2: by Sheila , Supporting Chick (new)

Sheila  | 3485 comments Mod
I just looked back to see who is going to be leading this discussion, at it looks like the book was nominated by Gina. Looking forward to the discussion. :o)

I also thought I would share this link to some information on the book from the author's website:

Personally, I enjoyed the book, though I wish it could have been more accurate historically in relation to the actual Sarajevo Haggadah. But once I let go of the fact that the book wasn't historically accurate about that specific book, I enjoyed the story of the fictional people who were the "people of the book". It made me look at some of the really old books I own, and wonder whose hands they have passed through in their history. So in the spirit of the story, when I finished my copy, I put a BookCrossing ID number in it, and sent it on it's way through bookswap. Maybe I will end up with a fun history of my copy of People of the Book.

message 3: by Tracy (new)

Tracy Phillips I am about half way through audio version of the book and enjoying it very much. I have found myself taking notes and looking up historical events that the book references. This book has made me, once again, very appreciative of history as I am often reminded when I read books of (I guess it would be termed) historical fiction.

I also really like the flow of the plot of the book. How the book takes you back in time to like 1490's as the author reveals the mystery of the hair, salt crystals, clasps, wine and blood that Hannah discovered upon her examination of the Haggadah.

Also Sheila thanks for sharing the link :o)

message 4: by Sharon A. (new)

Sharon A. (sharona826) | 172 comments I really enjoyed this book, and without spoiling anything, I especially loved how it tells the history in reverse chronology. As the story would unfold, I would find myself going back to the previous section to review how it ties in.

As is typical for me (I'm more of a historical fiction nut), I liked the history of the book more than the modern day plot.

message 5: by Jane (new)

Jane (JaneLitChic) | 13 comments I'm looking forward to joining this discussion as soon as I am a bit further along into the book (only a few pages in so far). Hoping to get a bit more stuck into it over the weekend!

message 6: by Sheila , Supporting Chick (new)

Sheila  | 3485 comments Mod
Since it looks like our discussion leader hasn't joined in yet, I thought I'd post a questions to keep the talk going until she arrives. :o)

Question: There is an amazing array of "people of the book"—whose lifetimes span some remarkable periods in human history. Who is your favorite and why?

message 7: by Monica (new)

Monica (imelda85) I'm just starting this book today, but hopefully I will get some reading in this weekend. I look forward to discussing this book with all of you! I've had it to read at home for over a year, it's about time I read it! Haha!

message 8: by Tracy (new)

Tracy Phillips Wow! I have many favorite people in the book whose amazing acts helped save the Haggadah, century after century. I also like the fact that it is not always extraordinary acts the save the book but circumstances in spite of frail human decisions that keep the book safe from destruction.

It is fascinating to see the juxtaposition between the Catholic and Jewish faith. In particular I enjoyed the relationship between Judah Aryeh and the catholic sensor Giovani Domenico Vistorini in 1609 Venice. I enjoyed the intellectual exchange between the two in Chapter 9 and the description of how their relationship developed.

message 9: by Tracy (new)

Tracy Phillips What an absolutely amazing journey! I give this book 5 out 5 stars :o) I am very excited for continued discussion!

message 10: by Sheila , Supporting Chick (new)

Sheila  | 3485 comments Mod
Tracy, I agree it was facinating how the three faiths all played into this story, the Jews, the Christians (Catholics) and the Muslims.

Sharon, I also enjoyed how the story as told in reverse chronology, and how we were told the story of the book going back in time to it's origins.

message 11: by Tracy (new)

Tracy Phillips Shelia, yes the chapters focusing on Zahra the illuminator of the Haggadah is amazing. It really highlighted and focused on the the Jewish, Christian and Muslim relationships in 1490 Seville.

message 12: by Jennifer W (new)

Jennifer W | 2175 comments I anticipated getting back to the book's beginnings, especially because Haggadahs weren't typically illustrated, I wanted to know why this one was.

I really loved this book, right up until the deception at the end. That felt tacked on and unnecessary.

message 13: by Tracy (last edited Sep 30, 2010 09:06PM) (new)

Tracy Phillips I thought the end of the book was rather interesting. Particularly with the issue regarding burning that you come across, given that it is pretty much a theme thoughout the book itself. I can say more but do not want to give to much away for those we have not finished reading.

message 14: by Sharon A. (new)

Sharon A. (sharona826) | 172 comments My favorite of the historical segments was the story of the original illustrator. I thought her story was fascinating, and a perfect ending to my ever-growing fascination with the illuminations themselves.

I also thought the deception at the end had sort of a "tacked on" feel.

Marialyce (absltmom, yaya) I did like this book, but for some reason seemed to get lost in the back and forthing of time periods. I did so enjoy the fact that the Jewish and Muslim religions seemed to get along so well in the past.

I, like Jennifer and Sharon did not like the ending. It was to my way of thinking contrived. I do like the historical fiction of this book however and feel that is what gave it its zing.

message 16: by Sharon A. (new)

Sharon A. (sharona826) | 172 comments I'm glad others agree with me about the ending. Honestly I thought that maybe it was because I so enjoyed the story of the illustrator, that I resented being dragged back into modern times!

message 17: by Kristin (new)

Kristin (kgansor) | 111 comments I had this book in my hand while at a local book sale but ended up putting it back. I told myself if it is still there when I go back I will defiantly get it.

message 18: by Jennifer W (new)

Jennifer W | 2175 comments Did anyone look up the pictures in the real Sarajevo Haggadah as you were reading? I wanted to, but I didn't.

message 19: by Tracy (new)

Tracy Phillips Nope, I did not but I looked at one image after I read you post and will look at some more :o)

message 20: by Jane (new)

Jane (JaneLitChic) | 13 comments Jennifer, not until I read your post! I'm only halfway through at the moment, but will probably look up some more pictures once I get more into the history of when the Haggadah was made (which I assume is coming up...)

Warning: Possible spoilers below...

Does anyone have any thoughts on the symbolism used? At this point my thoughts are that the butterfly wing symbolises freedom and escape (i.e. Lola's story in the "An Insect's Wing" chapter).

Also, the end of the chapter on p. 144 refers to the blood and wine stains. The next chapter launches into a Communion service, and I'm wondering if the blood/wine/Communion juxtaposition is deliberate... (I guess I will find out when I read further on!)

I would be interested to hear if anyone else has any similar observations...

message 21: by Laura (new)

Laura Rittenhouse | 31 comments What I most liked about this book was that it is so original. Or have I missed the 30 other books that link several stories through forensic book repair :-)

what I least liked about this book was that is more a collection of short stories than a novel. As one vignetter ended and the next started I always suffered separation anxiety. Each story could easily have supported an entire novel on its own.

message 22: by Lisa (new)

Lisa Sharon A. wrote: "I really enjoyed this book, and without spoiling anything, I especially loved how it tells the history in reverse chronology. As the story would unfold, I would find myself going back to the previ..."

Well, the history of the book was fascinating and a different story in each section but I also thought those sections were better stories than the present day story.

message 23: by Monica (new)

Monica (imelda85) I agree, Laura, I like the idea of it being almost like a collection of short stories! I loved the historical bits and solving the mysteries of the Sarajevo Haggadah. Those were by far my favorite parts as well!

Oh, Jane! I never thought of that! Awesome observation!

message 24: by Tracy (new)

Tracy Phillips Jane wrote: "Jennifer, not until I read your post! I'm only halfway through at the moment, but will probably look up some more pictures once I get more into the history of when the Haggadah was made (which I as..."

Jane,thanks for the post regarding symbolism and chapter connections. When reading books my thoughts don't always gravitate to symbolism so it added another dimension to the book that's been interesting to think about and mull over :o)

message 25: by Kristin (new)

Kristin (kgansor) | 111 comments I did go back to the book sale and the book was still there so I snatched it up.. I couldn't wait until the bag sale tomorrow i'm sure it would have been gone.

message 26: by Nancy (last edited Sep 25, 2010 06:37PM) (new)

Nancy | 1274 comments Jane I like the thought of the butterfly wings symbolizing something. I didn't make a connection with the wine stains and the communion in the next chapter. Perhaps my brain was blocking that out, not being a Jewish tradition. I also liked the historical chapters more than the present day. I particularly liked the link to the Brooks webpage and the background of the book that Sheila posted. Sheila, I clicked on that article that Brooks wrote for the New Yorker in 2007. Wow - what a story! Thanks! I copied the article to my computer. No wonder she was inspired.

message 27: by Jane (new)

Jane (JaneLitChic) | 13 comments Just finished reading this a couple of days ago. I have to agree with everyone else regarding the ending as well... I also thought it felt "tacked on".

As much as I loved the stories regarding the earlier history of the book, the person whose story I felt most interested in was in fact Hanna. I was really interested in the dynamics of her relationship with her mother, and liked how her story tied in with the other stories of the people of the book.

message 28: by Tracy (last edited Oct 11, 2010 10:38AM) (new)

Tracy Phillips I was just thinking back on what a good read People of the Book was and how fun it has been to discuss things with you all.

A couple of things come to mind at present. I believe it was in the first Chapter of the book when Hanna came to Sarajevo to examine the Haggadah. I thoroughly enjoyed her description about how parchment was made :o) Near the end I also really liked when Hanna placed a clue in between the Haggadah for a future book conservator to discover that the Haggadah had traveled to Australia.

message 29: by Tracy (new)

Tracy Phillips Thinking back again to the People of the Book. I loaned the audio book from my local library and so no longer have a copy of it to refer to. Hopefully my memory serves me correctly as I post this.

I was thinking again of my favorite parts and/or descriptions in the book. One of my favorite parts/descriptions of the book is when Lola is on her laundry collection rounds. Somehow I really enjoyed the description of how she went about collecting the laundry and it was on one of her laundry collection rounds that she met Stela. The wife of the Muslim family who eventually took her into hiding. I really liked that first meeting!

That chapter was also a heart wrenching one. Here on a routine day in Lola's life she returns to find her family and neighbors taken from the homes! On what started out as an ordinary day her life is changed forever and it was her laundry collection rounds that saved her from being detained!

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