Friday, December 3, 2010

People of the book

People of the Book, Geraldine Brooks

Following The Book Thief, I turned to People of the Book - which unbenowst to me turned out to have similar themes - people who love books and Judaism.

The Sarajevo Haggadah, a Jewish prayer book, has recently been discovered in war-torn Sarajevo. A Sydney-based rare book conservator, Hanna Heath, is asked to restore the manuscript. What she finds leads her to uncover details of its 500 year history, crossing from Sarajevo, to Vienna in 1894, the dark years of the Spanish Inquisition, and Seville in 1480.

The story switches between the present to the past, slowly giving details about the manuscript over time. At the same time you are drawn in to the life of Hanna and how it has affected her. While the book is fiction, it is based on some facts known about the actual Sarajevo Haggadah, which was recovered after the Bosnian War.

There are many fans of Brooks' writing out there, and this one meets those expectations. She has also written March (from the view of the father in Little Women) and Year of Wonders (about the outbreak of plague in a village in England in 1666). She must do huge amounts of research for her writing, for you really feel like she has understood the times and then is able to convey it to the reader.

They all make great reading. If you appreciate history and how it can all fit together, chances are you will enjoy this one.

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