Friday, April 03, 2015

People of the Book by Geraldine Brooks

Historical Fiction

The Sarajevo Haggadah is a beautiful fifteenth century illuminated Hebrew manuscript that has miraculously survived many conflicts. This time it was saved from the Bosnian War when Hanna Heath is called on to look at and restore the book as a expert but also a neutral party. Hailing from Australia, Hanna flies to Sarajevo to examine this masterpiece. She finds a small insect wing, a wine stain, salt crystals, and a hair. Trying to get as much information as she can out of the book and it's history, the reader is privy to the real story as we learn how each item came to be in the book and how the book came to be itself.

With such an interesting premise for a book, I was very eager at the beginning and really wanted to know how this book came to be and the lives it touched along the way. As the first couple of stories got underway, I was a bit sad for Hanna that she would never know what I know and yet felt like I was privileged to be part of the secret.

Yet as the book continued, my reading of it got slower and I couldn't really put my finger on it. When I got to the end, I realized I didn't really care and it was because of Hanna and her mother. Brooks introduces a toxic relationship between Hanna and her mother. Mom is a doctor who will accept nothing less than Hanna also being in the medical field and lets her know it any time they see each other. The thing is, this added absolutely nothing to the story. Instead, it made me dislike both Hanna and her mom and not care much what happened to them. In addition, Hanna's love interest is also a bit of a snore.

It's a shame that the execution of this book didn't live up to the idea of it.

First Line: "I might as well say, right from the jump; it wasn't my usual kind of job."


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