Review from Philomena’s Bookclub – People of the Book

Book Title: People of the book

Author: Geraldine Brooks

Quote: ‘What I do is me, that’s why I came’ Gerard Manley Hopkins* (p372)

We found this quote to be significant and that it could be applied to many of the characters, Hannah in particular.

What we liked about the book

The story resonates with culture, historical detail and scientific elements and reflects the forensic skills that are part of the book conservator’s work. Brooks’ research and writing skill recreates each time and place and the social and cultural components in an intensely detailed and visual narrative. The structure of the book provides a challenge as it progresses forward with the contemporary Hannah’s story, while concurrently travelling back in time as the story of the Sarajevo Haggadah unfolds. The intertwining of religions and genders in the making and protection of the book, reinforce the value placed on it. History repeating through the ages is evident where the dominant power seeks to destroy the written forms of the minority, to obliterate culture and religion.

The book celebrates the intrinsic value of books, enduring throughout time, beyond religion, suffering and calamity. We hope there will always be books and that generations to come will enjoy and value books in all their forms. Thanks to libraries and the keepers of books over the years.

 What we did not like about the book

There were some parts that seemed rather contrived, or ‘Hollywoodish’, but still added to the drama. There seemed to be an attitude of being very respectful of fathers, and strong familial bonds between the wide spectrum of characters. However, we felt that mothers were not as sympathetically portrayed, in particular Hannah’s mother was not overly believable.

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