Friday, August 10, 2012

People of the Book, by Geraldine Brooks

The Book, in this case, is the Sarajevo Haggadah, many hundreds of years old, one of the earliest Jewish illuminated books.  In Brooks' novel, a gifted and dedicated conservator, entrusted with salvaging the book, finds herself wondering about its history.  She discovers certain small clues, which lead the reader into a series of historical set pieces dramatising its possible history.
The idea of working backwards through history is a promising one for fiction, and I found the plot engaging my attention throughout.  Unfortunately, the individual incidents are cliched: we have the Holocaust episode, the Expulsion of the Jews Episode, and so on.  By the time we reach the climax of the story, once again in contemporary history, we are almost ready to accept one more predictable tale, but Brooks is better than that; she gives us a rousing climax and finale.
I enjoyed it but I was disappointed that so much of the book was so predictable.


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