People of the Book by Geraldine Brooks
People of the Book
What a solid and satisfying novel this is.
Sweeping, intricate, ambitious and accomplished, People of the Book is a dazzling and rich combination of imagination and history, morally sound, intellectually challenging, and impossible to put down. This is a stunning achievement.
A young woman of uncommon training and unusual skill is called upon to restore an ancient religious text. During the course of her work she discovers several anomalies of a physical nature which pique her interest, and when she has them analyzed they are even more unusual. Some things are known about the text, and how it has arrived at its present location, but there are many serious gaps.
Brooks skillfully weaves the story of Hanna Heath, the restorer, with vividly recreated possibilities of the hands that held the text on its journey of more than 500 years, and of the conflicts it had to survive.
With abiding respect for the intelligence of her readers, Brooks has fashioned a compelling morality tale involving the persistent manipulation of institutional intolerance, of personal courage in the face of its outrages, the unending battle between compassion and inhumanity, and the infinite potential consequences of decisions and actions.
Depending on your point of view it is no less a reminder of the random or divine aspects of the fragile nature of the survival of art and artifact.
Thought-provoking, masterfully crafted and informative, this one is very special.
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