Sunday, November 1, 2009

About People of the Book

Perhaps I'm biased but I think our November selection, People of the Book, is a great choice to settle in with on a brisk fall evening. Joan, one of the contributors to Turning the Page, our books and reading blog, did a beautiful job summing up the plot. Here's an excerpt from her review:

"Australian manuscript conservator Hanna Heath is called in by a museum librarian in Sarajevo to preserve the unusual haggidah, which has miraculously survived the ethnic cleansings in that city as just the latest chapter in its long and violent history. She discovers tiny physical traces of the book’s past—a bloodstain, a fleck of butterfly wing, a cat’s hair, salt crystals—in its pages and binding.

As Hanna investigates the provenance of each of these clues, the novel jumps back in time through the centuries to reveal how each came to be in the book and to tell the tale of each person through its history who helped protect the book against destruction..."

And she concludes by saying:
"Lots of readers are going to enjoy Brooks’ detailed historical research, her very readable style, and the knowledge that it’s all inspired by a true story, the history of the Sarajevo Haggadah."
I couldn't agree more! By the way, if you'd like to read more of Joan's review, here's the link to her post in Turning the Page.

About Geraldine Brooks

Before turning her attention to writing novels, Geraldine Brooks was an award-winning foreign correspondent for the Wall Street Journal, covering the crises in the Middle East, Africa, and the Balkans. According to her website, while in Nigeria on assignment, she was arrested, thrown in jail, and accused of being a spy. While there, "she began to consider a midlife career change." (Who could blame her?) In 2001, her first novel, Year of Wonders: A Novel of the Plague, was published. Five years later, March, a retelling of Little Women from the perspective of Mr. March, was published and won the Pulitzer Prize.

If you're interested in learning more about Geraldine Brooks, I'd like to direct your attention to a couple of interesting links on her website. The first is an essay on "The Writing Life," and the second is a profile of her that appeared in the Washington Post.

I hope I have the opportunity to meet her someday. She's had a fascinating life and I've thoroughly enjoyed all three of her novels.