A review of The People of the Book, by Geraldine Brooks
@@@@ (4 out of 5)
Take a look down the page at the map I copied from Amazon.com’s review of this outstanding historical novel, and you’ll get a sense of the extraordinary scope of the story. Pulitzer-Prize-winning author Geraldine Brooks will carry you on the eloquence of her prose through the five-century journey throughout Southern Europe of the fabled Sarajevo Haggadah. This ceremonial book, available in innumerable versions, is put to work every year in Jewish Seders throughout the world to celebrate Passover. In Brooks’ hands, however, this remarkable example of the bookmaker’s art serves as a time machine, taking us from Seville in the late 15th Century, to Sarajevo and Sydney in the early 21st. More to the point, the Sarajevo Haggadah emerges in the pages of People of the Book as a brilliant symbol of reconciliation among Jews, Muslims, and Christians.
Though told through a series of interlaced scenes, with the distant past alternating with the present, the story is a tale of courage and redemption and of the triumph of the human spirit to create and preserve beauty in the face of brutality and injustice.
Brooks’ protagonist is a world-class specialist in preserving and restoring rare books who lives in the author’s native Australia. Her interactions with the other characters who people this beautifully written novel reveal both the extensive research Brooks conducted on the subject matter and the depth of her humanity.
I won’t say more about the story. Read it for yourself. You’ll be delighted you did.
- ISBN-10: 0732280389
- ISBN-13: 978-0732280383