People of the Book: A Novel (Paperback)

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Staff Reviews

Admirers of Geraldine Brooks (Year of WondersMarch) and great literature in general will be delighted by this beautifully fashioned novel. The ancient Haggadah she uses as the centerpiece of the story travels through the centuries and illuminates the lives of its various keepers, as well as each historical era. Detailing both ancient history and the complex life and times of its modern restorer, this novel delivers an amazing richness as well as a marvelous story. — Karen Frank

This is one of the authors that I follow faithfully,Geraldine Brooks. My favorite book of hers is The People of the Book. It is a love story to the history in the art of making books and the lives of books, themselves. This is the tale of one book and the many incarnations it has led and it's influence on the people who have owned it over the centuries. The book, a famous Haggadah has it's own tales to tell from the debris found within the book itself. The conservationist, Hannah Heath also has her own story to tell us. This is a story of faith, perserverance, redemption and love on many levels; a book, a people, a culture.and an individual. — Maeve Noonan

This is historical fiction at its best. Rare book expert Hanna Heath gets the chance of a lifetime to analyze the Sarajevo Haggadah. She finds within its pages a wine stain, an insect wing, a white hair and salt crystals. "People of the Book" takes you back in time, starting in the 1940s and ending in 1480, to discover the history of this infamous book. Based on a true story. — Jess Elder

A woman tracks the history of a rare manuscript down through the centuries by the traces - a wine stain, a grain of salt - that have been left upon it. Informative and involving. — Alden Graves

Spring/Summer '09 Reading Group List

“Geraldine Brooks uses the Sarajevo Haggadah as the centerpiece for another brilliant historical novel. The history of the beautifully illustrated book is the basis for a journey through multiple eras, portraying the trials and travails of European Jews through the centuries. A must for lovers of books and great fiction.”
— Bill Cusumano, Nicola's Books, Ann Arbor, MI


The bestselling novel that follows a rare manuscript through centuries of exile and war, from the author of The Secret Chord and of March, winner of the Pulitzer Prize.

Inspired by a true story, People of the Book is a novel of sweeping historical grandeur and intimate emotional intensity by an acclaimed and beloved author. Called “a tour de force” by the San Francisco Chronicle, this ambitious, electrifying work traces the harrowing journey of the famed Sarajevo Haggadah, a beautifully illuminated Hebrew manuscript created in fifteenth-century Spain. When it falls to Hanna Heath, an Australian rare-book expert, to conserve this priceless work, the series of tiny artifacts she discovers in its ancient binding—an insect wing fragment, wine stains, salt crystals, a white hair—only begin to unlock its deep mysteries and unexpectedly plunges Hanna into the intrigues of fine art forgers and ultranationalist fanatics.

About the Author

Geraldine Brooks is the author of four novels, the Pulitzer Prize–winning March and the international bestsellers Caleb’s Crossing, People of the Book, and Year of Wonders. She has also written the acclaimed nonfiction works Nine Parts of Desire and Foreign Correspondence. Her most recent novel, Caleb’s Crossing, was the winner of the New England Book Award for Fiction and the Christianity Today Book Award, and was a finalist for the Langum Prize in American Historical Fiction. Born and raised in Australia, she lives on Martha’s Vineyard with her husband, the author Tony Horwitz.

Praise For…

Praise for People of the Book:

“There’s romance between Brooks and the world, and her writing is as full of heart and curiosity as it is intelligence and judgement.”
The Boston Globe

“Intelligent, thoughtful, gracefully written, and original . . . Brooks tells a believable and engaging story.”
The Washington Post

“Intense, gripping . . . People of the Book, like her Pulitzer Prize–winning previous novel March, is a tour de force that delivers a reverberating lesson gleaned from history. . . . It’s a brilliant, innately suspenseful structure, and one that allows Brooks to show off her remarkable aptitude for assimilating research and conveying a wide range of settings. Also on full display is her keen sense of dramatic pacing.”
San Francisco Chronicle

“[A] marvelously intertwined narrative, with one strand tied to the contemporary world and the other leading us back into European history, into wars and inquisitions and family tragedies, all of this making up avidly narrated, powerfully emotional quest.”
The Dallas Morning News

“Richly imagined and at times almost unbearably exciting. . . . An ambitious book, a pleasure to read, and wholly successful in its attempt to give a sense of how miraculous, unlikely, and ultimately binding the history of objects can be.”
Star Tribune (Minneapolis)

Product Details
ISBN: 9780143115007
ISBN-10: 0143115006
Publisher: Penguin Books
Publication Date: December 30th, 2008
Pages: 416
Language: English