Thursday, June 4, 2009

"People of the Book"

I just finished (last night since I couldn't fall asleep) reading "People of the Book" by Geraldine Brooks, and I have to say it's a pretty outstanding work of historical fiction.

The first half of the book is truly captivating, and I found it hard to put down while I was reading it. The second half of the book seemed a little contrived at points, especially toward the very end when it turned into a cheesy "who dun it" kind of storyline. I am guessing that Brooks probably had a lot of really lengthy, detailed chapters to begin with and was forced to edit them down -- that is the only explanation for how quickly the end of the book moved and how short and brief the final narratives were.

I do have to say, however, that of all the historical fiction I've read since Anita Diamant's brilliant and one-of-a-kind book "The Red Tent," Brooks' "People of the Book" is the best. It far surpasses the Rashi's Daughters books which were, to be completely honest, disappointing, and many other books of a similar flare.

I highly recommend the book, which takes a embellished look at the Sarajevo Haggadah -- how it was created, where, by whom, how it traveled from point A to B to C, how it survived many horrible historic events, and perhaps most interestingly, it details the secret lives of historic, important books. The imagined lives of the characters in Brooks' book are so life-like, so real, and I found myself automatically felt compassion and a connection to these historic Christian, Muslim, and Jewish figures.

So go get the book if you haven't. If you have read it? Let me know what you think. Right now on my docket I have "The Book of Names," a mystery novel I believe; John Updike's newest "My Father's Tears and Other Stories;" as well as "The Bible Code" by Michael Drosnin. Not sure which I'll start on first ... but amen for finally having a public library card!