People of the Book

  • by Geraldine Brooks
  • Narrated by Edwina Wren
  • 14 hrs and 5 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

From the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of March, the journey of a rare illuminated manuscript through centuries of exile and war.In 1996, Hanna Heath, an Australian rare-book expert, is offered the job of a lifetime: analysis and conservation of the famed Sarajevo Haggadah, which has been rescued from Serb shelling during the Bosnian war. Priceless and beautiful, the book is one of the earliest Jewish volumes ever to be illuminated with images. When Hanna, a caustic loner with a passion for her work, discovers a series of tiny artifacts in its ancient binding-an insect wing fragment, wine stains, salt crystals, a white hair-she begins to unlock the book's mysteries. The reader is ushered into an exquisitely detailed and atmospheric past, tracing the book's journey from its salvation back to its creation.In Bosnia during World War II, a Muslim risks his life to protect it from the Nazis. In the hedonistic salons of fin-de-si├Ęcle Vienna, the book becomes a pawn in the struggle against the city's rising anti-Semitism. In inquisition-era Venice, a Catholic priest saves it from burning. In Barcelona in 1492, the scribe who wrote the text sees his family destroyed by the agonies of enforced exile. And in Seville in 1480, the reason for the Haggadah's extraordinary illuminations is finally disclosed. Hanna's investigation unexpectedly plunges her into the intrigues of fine art forgers and ultra-nationalist fanatics. Her experiences will test her belief in herself and the man she has come to love.Inspired by a true story, People of the Book is at once a novel of sweeping historical grandeur and intimate emotional intensity, an ambitious, electrifying work by an acclaimed and beloved author.

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What the Critics Say

"Brooks is too good a novelist to belabor her political messages, but her depiction of the Haggadah bringing together Jews, Christians and Muslims could not be more timely. Her gift for storytelling, happily, is timeless." (Publishers Weekly)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

Excellent book, some narration problems

This is a fabulous book. A wonderful thread of history from 15th-16th century North Africa, Spain, and Italy to 19th century Vienna to 20th century Bosnia and Australia. The story is intricate, and bounces around between time frames, but it is written well enough that you don't get lost (unless you don't listen for a week or two, then you may have to rewind). The characters are all interesting--almost too interesting, I wanted to hear more of each of their stories.
I would have given this book 5 stars, but the narration sometimes distracted from the story. I guess if you don't speak any Hebrew or German, the fact that she can't EVER get the accent on the right syllable, wouldn't bother you, but it drove me crazy. (BTW, it's HagGADdah, not HAGgaddag and it's the SheMA, not the SHEma--I mean, paleeze! Also, Liebchen is pronounced leeb-SHIN, not leeb-KIN.) I don't speak Serbo-Croatian, Spanish or Arabic, so if there were mistakes there I didn't notice them.
However, that caveat should not keep you from listening to this book. Overall, the narration is fine, just some minor things that had me correcting her mistakes out loud!
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- K.

Geraldine Brooks at her masterful best

I read People of the Book several years ago - a borrowed book - and early last year listened to Geraldine's new novel Caleb's Crossing.

I have gone back to People of the Book as the story is utterly fascinating - now hearing the book all I can say is Brilliant! Brilliant! Brilliant.

The story is engaging. The narrator, Edwina Wren, adds deep colour to the story with carefully chosen accents and a light yet entrancing tone that enriches this favourite book of mine.

The story, what has happened to this Jewish tome over the last 500 years, a story told by the conservator and the characters of the Book's journey since it was prepared, examines an illuminated manuscript when Jewish lore insisted that illumination is not appropriate.

A rich tapestry, I write this before I have finished Part 2 - I just couldn't wait to encourage others to buy People of the Book.

Exceptional author and hugely entertaining narrator. This is one of those books where it is fair to say, "a must have".
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- Martin "Executive Recruiter 20+ Years, father to six, spouse to one, grandfather to 4; specialist in Bipolar 2, Panic, Anxiety (OCD) & Addictions."

Book Details

  • Release Date: 10-31-2008
  • Publisher: Bolinda Publishing Pty Ltd