Monday, June 29, 2009

People of the Book by Geraldine Brooks

I bought this on a recommendation from a few internet folks, so I was almost worried that it wasn't going to be good (I've gotten a few bad books based on internet recommendations before.)
So when I picked this one up to read it, and it immediately grabbed my attention, I was very relieved. This is a really great book about the history of a five hundred year old Jewish religious text. You get to see it in the present (sort of: 1996 and then 2002) and you also get to go back in history and find out where every trace of its history came from and how it happened to get there. The book is structured so that every chapter shows a different time in the books history. In the present, there are several pieces of evidence that are recovered from between the pages: a butterfly's wing, some salt crystals, a wine stain. Each of these traces gets revealed to the reader, so that we see the people behind this book and what they went through to make, and save it, so that we, in the present, have the opportunity to see it and gain some of its knowledge.
I loved all the different people who came into the existence of this amazing text; the librarians who saved it multiple times from destruction, the Jews in Venice who hid it, the slave who drew the illuminations that made it so unique.
I definitely recommend this everyone. Its a great historical fiction that will make you think about the way different religions mix and mesh now and through history.

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