Audiobook Review: PEOPLE OF THE BOOK by Geraldine Brooks

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Several years ago, my older sister sent me an email that said, “Run, do not walk, to get this book and read it!”. It was PEOPLE OF THE BOOK by Geraldine Brooks. I got it from the library and read about the first 30 pages and thought “Snoozefest”. I could not get into it. I was puzzled because honestly whenever either of my sisters tell me they love a book I almost always love it, too.

So I saw the audiobook at the library a few weeks ago and thought, “Maybe I should give this one a try again.” I LOVED Brooks’ Pulitzer Prize-winning MARCH and also her CALEB’S CROSSING. I popped it in and started listening. After about an hour my main thought was:

WHAT WAS I THINKING??

This is an EXCELLENT book. I can only imagine I was highly distracted when I tried to read it before (that happens to me. Life gets in the way).

Here’s the Amazon summary (this book came out in 2008 and has just under 400 pages):

From the Pulitzer Prize–winning author of March, the journey of a rare illuminated manuscript through centuries of exile and war

In 1996, Hanna Heath, an Australian rare-book expert, is offered the job of a lifetime: analysis and conservation of the famed Sarajevo Haggadah, which has been rescued from Serb shelling during the Bosnian war. Priceless and beautiful, the book is one of the earliest Jewish volumes ever to be illuminated with images. When Hanna, a caustic loner with a passion for her work, discovers a series of tiny artifacts in its ancient binding—an insect wing fragment, wine stains, salt crystals, a white hair—she begins to unlock the book’s mysteries. The reader is ushered into an exquisitely detailed and atmospheric past, tracing the book’s journey from its salvation back to its creation.

In Bosnia during World War II, a Muslim risks his life to protect it from the Nazis. In the hedonistic salons of fin-de-siècle Vienna, the book becomes a pawn in the struggle against the city’s rising anti-Semitism. In inquisition-era Venice, a Catholic priest saves it from burning. In Barcelona in 1492, the scribe who wrote the text sees his family destroyed by the agonies of enforced exile. And in Seville in 1480, the reason for the Haggadah’s extraordinary illuminations is finally disclosed. Hanna’s investigation unexpectedly plunges her into the intrigues of fine art forgers and ultra-nationalist fanatics. Her experiences will test her belief in herself and the man she has come to love.

Inspired by a true story, People of the Book is at once a novel of sweeping historical grandeur and intimate emotional intensity, an ambitious, electrifying work by an acclaimed and beloved author.

Me again — I was fascinated with this book — the characters, the mystery, the history, the story. The writing, as with all of Brooks’ novels, was well-crafted. The audiobook version had 12 CD’s and was aptly narrated by Edwina Wren (who does a great job with accents!).

So, in the words of my sister, “Run, don’t walk, to get this book!”

Here’s a You Tube book trailer:

Review: THINGS HALF IN SHADOW by Alan Finn

It’s post-Civil War Philadelphia, and Edward Clark is on a newspaper assignment to uncover false mediums and spiritualists in the city. Edward has a secret past – he is the child of a famous magician whose career ended in tragedy. He delights in seeing through the tricks and hoaxes. When he crosses paths with Lucy Collins, a fake medium who will stop at nothing to keep herself and her younger brother alive and successful, he ends up having to bring her along on his assignment. They visit a famous medium who seems to be the real deal, but then she falls dead during a séance in front of a room of people.

I really enjoyed this fun read! Between Edward’s voice as narrator and the things Lucy would do, I would often find myself laughing out loud. Yes I had to suspend my disbelief at the end, but it was all in fun. This must be the start of a series as there was no final conclusion. Get writing, Mr. Finn! We need the next installment! I read this as an e-galley but I saw online that it is over 400 pages. I was rather shocked as it read very quickly and I finished it in a couple of days. I love a blend of history, supernatural, and humor – this book had it all.

Thanks, Net Galley and Gallery Books, for my copy!

You can find it at an Indie near you — I am an Indie Bound affiliate:


Find it at an Indie!

Here’s a fun book trailer via You Tube —

Saturday Snapshot: Trip to Plimoth Plantation

It was school break this week and we were just at home, so for two days I took the kids down to the Cape to see Plimoth Plantation and the Mayflower II.

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As always, I am challenged with my editing skills!! Here’s what we have:

–The kids standing in the English Village of Plimoth Plantation. It was just starting to rain and we were some of the only ones there, which was great! We could do whatever we wanted to! We talked to Miles Standish for about 30 minutes and hung out in the homes when it rained. There is also a Wampanoag village there with true Native Americans that were working and building a canoe (picture did not come out) that fascinated my son!

— 1620 marks Plimoth Rock!

— Here are the kids with the Mayflower II in the background and then on board. In true “Nolan” fashion, I get us everywhere at the start of the day when it opens — much less busy. We were the only ones on the Mayflower for a bit and could interact freely with the folks there.

–My kids asked me to include this “Moo-flower” cow statue from the visitors’ center since they thought it was hysterical!

Plymouth is only 75 miles from us, but we stayed the night to make it extra fun. The second day we went back to the Plantation to the Wampanoag village again and to see the baby animals in the barns.

Saturday Snapshot is hosted by Melinda at http://www.westmetromommy.blogspot.com. Check her site for participation rules!