Book Review: People of the Book by Geraldine Brooks

October 31, 2023


People of the Book by Geraldine Brooks is an imagining of the history of the famous illuminated manuscript known as the Sarajevo Haggadah. Ms. Brooks is an Pulitzer Prize winning Australian author.

  • 372 pages
  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Penguin Books
  • Language ‏ : ‎ English
  • ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 0143115006

Book Review: People of the Book by Geraldine Brooks
My rating for People of the Book – 5
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I don’t remember where I head about this book, but I’m glad I did. Not only does it touch on subjects I’m interested in, I’m also a sucker for “books about books“.

The fascinating part of the People of the Book by Geraldine Brooks is the “book detective” aspects of the narrative. We, the readers, are privileged to find out how certain mysteries, like spilled wine, or a feather, are in the book. Something the protagonist researcher will never know.

The main story takes place in Sarajevo, Bosnia, where Hanna Heath does her research. Together with a Bosnian man whose son is wounded during the terrible conflict in the area. Along with learning how books were made, we also get a small history lesson about the Balkans.

Each chapter goes back and forth from Hanna’s investigation in Bosnia and Herzegovina, England, Boston, and Australia, to the Iberian Peninsula, and Italy following the making, and travels, of the Haggadah during its inception, World War II, and the Spanish Inquisition.

The narrative weaves together the struggles of Jews, Muslims, and Christians along with troubled areas around the world. The book is thought provoking, well researched, and beautifully written. I’m very impressed how Ms. Brooks managed to write so much panoramic content in a relatively short book, considering the richness of it.

Despite all the content, spanning multiple centuries and locations, the narrative is focused and easily understood. The tolerance of diversity is a theme throughout, as well as the study of human response to tragic events.


Hanna Heath is a rare book expert that discovered a priceless work of art. A Haggadah which was created in the 15th Century, Spain. The Haggadah looks more like a Christian book, which confuses many experts.

Throughout her research, Ms. Heath goes through personal tragedy, and a professional hardship. She discovers some strange anomalies within the Haggadah, and the omniscient narrator tells the reader on how they got there, something the researcher will never know.

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More Books by Geraldine Brooks*

Zohar — Man of la Book
Dis­claimer: I bought this book
*Ama­zon links point to an affil­i­ate account, the money is usually spent on books

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