Saturday, March 20, 2010

People of the Book - Geraldine Brooks




I started reading this book when I was in Singapore last year. My friend Lia had it and I only got through the first few chapters when it was time for me to leave. I bought it a few months back but never picked it up until the other day. I always tell people that they should read it when they are looking at books in my shelf because I enjoyed the first bit so much. I thought it was time to read it my self.

Amazon.com writes, “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. 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.”

This book was a really enjoyable read. I loved how the story went from modern day book expert Hanna to the other people whose lives the Haggadah has touched in the past. It was amazing how this one book survived all the people that tried to destroy it. It was just a book but it felt more magical then that. There were so many amazing characters in the book but one that really stood out to me was Lola. Lola was a Jewish teenager who lived in Sarajevo during WWII. I loved how strong she was and how she kept herself alive against all odds. She was a beautiful character.

One thing I really liked about the book was the harmony between the Jewish and Muslim characters. The Haggadah was saved by Muslim scholars a few times – people risked their lives to save a book that was not part of their own faith. I found that amazing and inspiring. I also enjoyed how Geraldine Brooks wrote the book. She is a beautiful writer. I have read a few of her works previously and really enjoyed them. The book really flowed and I loved how Hanna would find a clue about the book and then there would be a chapter about the book from an earlier time period and the people who had it.

I would totally recommend this book to anyone and everyone. It is one of those books that takes you to another place and makes you want to travel, see the world and meet all the amazing people that you can.

Rating - 4