(2) People of the Book

Title: People of the Book: A Novel by Geraldine Brooks
Publisher: Penguin Audio
Format: Audio Book
Narrator: Edwina Wren
Time: 13 hours 58 minutes
Genre: Fiction, religion

Synopsis: 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 ultra-nationalist fanatics.

Review: Over the years I have seen many people reading this book but I just never felt it looked interesting enough.  I wasn't until reading the "End of Life Book Club" that it started to peak my interest again and I'm glad it did.  This book pulled me in from the very beginning.  I didn't want to stop listening to it.  The narrator's voice was hypnotic.  I know some reviews were disappointed in her changing her accent but I thought it really added to the story.

I am starting to realize how irritated so many Americans are with accents and their inability to understand them. This baffles me but I just chalk it up to American arrogance. I thank my parents for exposing me to different cultures and different accents at an early age.

This book really emphasizes how important history is.  Whether its the history of an object or our history.  While researching the Haggadah Hanna also discovers her past which helps her to make sense of her relationship with her mother and also helps her discover more family.  The book flips around between Hanna's research and her interactions with her family and the people she works with and the history of the Haggadah.  The book delves deep into the different stories of the people who help create and preserve the book and tells the journey that it has made. Its a fascinating journey filled with Brook's vivid depiction of the characters who are Christian, Muslim and Jews.

The story can get a little confusing when you are listening to it and I think that it may be easier to follow if I was actually reading it but its fairly easy to sink back into the story once you realize what time period you are in. The book also touches on long running anti-semitism and the hardships of women and finding their place in the world.  Its is a well constructed book and brilliantly narrated by Edwina Wren.