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Islington Branch Book Club - Past Titles: "People of the Book" by Geraldine Brooks

Take a look through previous titles we've discussed at our Islington Branch Book Club

"People of the Book" by Geraldine Brooks

  1. **The novel follows the character Hanna Heath as she investigates the Sarajevo Haggadah. How does Hanna's personal journey parallel the historical journeys of the book's various owners?

  2. **The Sarajevo Haggadah is a real historical artifact. How does the author blend fact and fiction to create a compelling narrative, and how does the historical accuracy of the Sarajevo Haggadah impact the story?

  3. **Each section of the novel is dedicated to a different period in the Haggadah's history. Which historical period resonated with you the most, and why?

  4. **Explore the theme of cultural and religious tolerance in the novel. How do characters from different backgrounds and faiths interact with the Sarajevo Haggadah, and what does this reveal about the power of art and literature to bridge divides?

  5. **Discuss the significance of the Haggadah as a symbol. What does it represent to different characters throughout history, and how does its survival become a testament to the endurance of culture and knowledge?

  6. **The novel delves into the lives of various characters who have interacted with the Haggadah. Whose story resonated with you the most, and how did their experiences contribute to the overarching narrative?

  7. **Consider the impact of war and conflict on the preservation of cultural artifacts. How does the Sarajevo Haggadah survive through periods of war, and what challenges does it face?

  8. **Explore the character of Hanna Heath as a conservator. How does her profession shape her perspective on the Haggadah, and how does her personal journey intersect with the broader historical narrative?

  9. **The author weaves in elements of mystery and intrigue into the novel. How do these elements contribute to the pacing and overall impact of the story?

  10. **Discuss the parallels between the Haggadah's journey and the experiences of individuals or communities during times of upheaval. In what ways does the Haggadah serve as a witness to history?

  11. **Consider the role of women in the novel, both as characters in the historical sections and through Hanna Heath's contemporary narrative. How do women contribute to the preservation and transmission of culture and knowledge?

  12. **Reflect on the novel's exploration of the power of storytelling and literature. How does the act of telling stories contribute to the preservation of cultural heritage, and what does it reveal about the human connection to narrative?

Geraldine Brooks is an Australian-American author and journalist known for her works of fiction that often explore historical and cultural themes. Here is a brief biography of Geraldine Brooks:

Early Life:

  • Geraldine Brooks was born on September 14, 1955, in Sydney, Australia.

Journalistic Career:

  • Brooks began her career in journalism and worked as a reporter for The Sydney Morning Herald. She later became a foreign correspondent for The Wall Street Journal.
  • As a journalist, she covered a wide range of topics, including conflicts in the Middle East.

Writing Career:

  • Geraldine Brooks transitioned from journalism to fiction writing. Her debut novel, "Year of Wonders" (2001), is set during the time of the bubonic plague in England.
  • She gained widespread acclaim and won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction for her second novel, "March" (2005). The novel is a reimagining of the father's experiences in Louisa May Alcott's "Little Women."
  • "People of the Book" (2008) explores the journey of a rare illuminated manuscript, the Sarajevo Haggadah, through various historical periods.
  • Other notable works by Brooks include "Caleb's Crossing" (2011) and "The Secret Chord" (2015).

Awards and Recognition:

  • Geraldine Brooks has received several awards and honors for her contributions to literature, including the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction for "March."
  • Her novels have been praised for their historical accuracy, compelling storytelling, and exploration of complex themes.

Dual Citizenship:

  • Brooks is both an Australian and American citizen. She became a U.S. citizen in 2002.

Personal Life:

  • Geraldine Brooks is married to author Tony Horwitz, who was also a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and author. Tony Horwitz passed away in 2019.
  • The couple lived in Martha's Vineyard, Massachusetts.

Geraldine Brooks is known for her ability to blend historical research with imaginative storytelling, creating novels that resonate with readers interested in history, culture, and the human experience. Her works often delve into the lives of ordinary people during extraordinary historical moments, offering unique perspectives on well-known events.


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