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Carpe Librum

Bookish conversation with author Samantha Wilcoxson.


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Historical Novel Society

People of the Book by Geraldine Brooks

People of the Book - Geraldine Brooks

This is an exceptional story that explores the history of an ancient illuminated manuscript, the Sarajevo Haggadah. When the novel opened with a scene in 1996 Sarajevo, I wondered if it was going to be a good choice for me, but that was just the beginning of an amazing journey through centuries of struggle, war, and fate that brought this unique book into the hands of modern book restoration specialist Hanna Heath.


Heath is the central character, connecting to the others by the evidence she finds in the Haggadah. As she investigates a stain or researches the source of an insect wing, the story of another lifetime is revealed. The travels of the book demonstrate how amazing it is that it still exists while documenting the trials and suffering that humankind has caused each other to suffer.


Each person who has contact with the Haggadah is impacted by it and has a part in ensuring its future. People of diverse faiths and backgrounds are eloquently brought together in heartbreaking stories that far too many people lived through. Examples of slavery, inquisition, torture, disinheritance, and, of course, the Holocaust.....one finishes this book wondering how we could keep doing this to one another.


Another hit from Brooks. She does not disappoint.


I have to mention that I listened to this as an audio book. That was probably not the best format to choose with the multitude of characters, locations, and timelines. However, the narrator did an impressive job of using different accents for the wide variety of nationalities represented. I learned that Americans (I include myself) have the least musical speech patterns in the world. It almost hurt my ears to hear the American characters after the others, including the main character's Australian accent.