Sunday, May 10, 2009

51. People of the Book

By:  Geraldine Brooks
Rated 4 Stars
From Library, Audio Book

This is another one of those split into time books.  In a way this is very similar to The Source by James Mitchner in that it is a journey back in time.  This book traces the history of a sacred 500 year old Jewish prayer book.  I loved that part of it.

What I didn't love so much were the contemporary characters of Hannah the rare book expert and  Ozrem the librarian who saved the book from being destroyed in the siege of Sarajevo.  Hannah was way to abrasive for me to be able to muster up any sympathy for her personally although I had plenty of it for her cause.  Ozrem was a whiner who came across as a person who had a flash of courage and integrity every once in a while but didn't have enough character to sustain it over the long haul.  So my rating for this book is actually split, 5 for the history of the book, 3 for the parts of the story involving Hannah and Ozram.  In my mind that averaged out to a 4.

One of the earliest Jewish religious volumes to be illuminated with images, the Sarajevo Haggadah survived centuries of purges and wars thanks to people of all faiths who risked their lives to safeguard it. Geraldine Brooks, the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of March, has turned the intriguing but sparely detailed history of this precious volume into an emotionally rich, thrilling fictionalization that retraces its turbulent journey. In the hands of Hanna Heath, an impassioned rare-book expert restoring the manuscript in 1996 Sarajevo, it yields clues to its guardians and whereabouts: an insect wing, a wine stain, salt crystals, and a white hair. While readers experience crucial moments in the book's history through a series of fascinating, fleshed-out short stories, Hanna pursues its secrets scientifically, and finds that some interests will still risk everything in the name of protecting this treasure.
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