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  • People of the Book

  • A Novel
  • By: Geraldine Brooks
  • Narrated by: Edwina Wren
  • Length: 13 hrs and 53 mins
  • 4.8 out of 5 stars (12 ratings)

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People of the Book cover art

People of the Book

By: Geraldine Brooks
Narrated by: Edwina Wren
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Summary

From the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of March, the journey of a rare illuminated prayer book through centuries of war, destruction, theft, loss, and love.

Inspired by a true story, People of the Book is a novel of sweeping historical grandeur and intimate emotional intensity by an acclaimed and beloved author. Called "a tour de force"by the San Francisco Chronicle, this ambitious, electrifying work traces the harrowing journey of the famed Sarajevo Haggadah, a beautifully illuminated Hebrew manuscript created in 15th-century Spain.

When it falls to Hanna Heath, an Australian rare-book expert, to conserve this priceless work, the series of tiny artifacts she discovers in its ancient binding - an insect wing fragment, wine stains, salt crystals, a white hair - only begin to unlock its deep mysteries and unexpectedly plunges Hanna into the intrigues of fine art forgers and ultra-nationalist fanatics.

©2008 Geraldine Brooks (P)2008 Penguin Audio

Critic reviews

"Intelligent, thoughtful, gracefully written and orginal. . .Brooks tells a believable and engaging story." (The Washington Post)

"[A] marvelously intertwined narrative, with one strand tied to the contemporary world and the other leading us back into European history, into wars and inquisitions and family tragedies, all of this making up avidly narrated, powerfully emotional quest." (The Dallas Morning News)

What listeners say about People of the Book

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    5 out of 5 stars

Fascinating

I loved this story from the first word to the last. It was very compelling and quite beautifully written. I’d never heard of the Sarajevo Haggadah so I also learned a lot. My only criticism is of some of the strange voices and accents in the narration which were jarring at times eg the Israeli accent was awful as were some of the Spanish women’s screechy tones

1 person found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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exceptional

compelling, good mixture of history and speculation, great characters, will listen again as I got a bit lost with who is who at times! I could enjoy a sequal exploring more of what was found at the end!

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Yvette
  • 13-03-09

Amazing, fabulous, wonderful!!!

A wonderful book with a first-rate reader!!! I knew a little about the relationship of the Jews, Muslims, and Christians in the 15th through 20th Centuries, but this book deepened that understanding. The author did a great job of showing that, in the end, it is the quality of the person, and not their religion, that matters. The author made it vividly clear that governments (secular & religious) have always been willing to use Religion as a tool & weapon against each other, but that individuals can make a difference, though often at great personal cost. The author & reader lead the listener through the lives of the conservator working on the +500 year-old Hagada (spelling?), and then through pieces of the lives of those it touched thoughout its history. The people and their time periods were facinatingly drawn, and the reader did such a great job that the book was spell-binding. I often notice that the quality & personality of the reader can make or break an audiobook performance. This combination was magical.

63 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Philip
  • 28-06-09

Ignore the complaints of others

My wife had read the book and urged me to listen to it. I was delighted to see it was available as an Audiobook, but was worried about the many member reviews that panned the narrator's accents. Despite the complaints, I barged ahead...and I'm glad that I did!! I thought this book was terrific! Wonderful, rich, engrossing, imaginative story, in a class by itself. I'll concede that SOME of the accents were problematic, but this multi-character, multi-accent, multcentury book was a tough assignment to narrate. Get past the flaws; enjoy the ride! If it had been allowed, I would have given this 4.5 stars!

56 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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  • Ella
  • 13-08-09

UGH!

How sad that such a great book was narrated by an over the top, narrator. When she spoke in her regular aussie accent, she was just fine. I would have loved to listen to her read this book normally, but she chose to create these weird sounding characters. All kinds of weird. There was one that sounds like he has a hair stuck in his throat, another she gave a lisp to. There were a fair amount of hebrew or yiddish phrases and she did not have a clue how to pronounce any of them. It was a real botch job. As for the book, don't miss it. Go out and buy it. Read this one, it is full of excellent vignettes surrounding the story of The Sarajevo Haggadah, a book that Jews use to conduct their sedar on passover. The stories are historical and they are all set amongst a present day character named Hanna Heath, a manuscript conservator who is examining the book before it is to be put on display. Five star story, one star narrator.

43 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Cindyhasitall
  • 07-03-10

tremendously done

This book was so well done, it held my attention, it was exciting and very sad. I held my breath, giggled and teared up. This was written by someone who has an understanding of what some will done to curb education and understanding one decade at a time. It shares how the truth will reveal itself, even during attempts to suppress it, threaten it, or even go so far as to eradicate it. It was difficult to hear what humanity has done to itself, but delightful to hear what it is capable of doing. All of this energy is over a book, it's own conception, and survival and what some people will do over the centuries to preserve it's own history, survival and story, and those who were directly involved in it. Read &/or listen to this book. It is wonderful

25 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
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  • Sophie26
  • 03-03-09

Horrid accents

The fake accidents are really annoying, and her dialogue is awful. She'd be better off reading rather than trying to act.

20 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
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  • Claire G. Moses
  • 17-09-09

Skip the audio version; read the book...

I have never written an online review before but was encouraged to do so by my anger at the narrator for (almost) ruining such a wonderful book. Many people here have mentioned the accents--but add to this her total mispronunciation of the Hebrew. Good narrators find out how to pronounce unfamiliar words; it's not that hard to do. Brooks has written a wonderful book: Do yourself a favor: read it!

18 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
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  • Anonymous User
  • 05-07-10

narration was extremely painful

I never write reviews- but this narration was beyond painful, it was egregious!

It is not just that her accents were horrible, but it really seemed like the narrator just didn't care to take the time to even check how to pronounce certain terms and words that were repeatedly said within the text. Her characters were indistinguishable because she didn't take the time to learn how natives of any of the Countries in which the book's story touches actually speak.

I am a fluent Hebrew and English speaker- I don't expect Hebrew to be pronounced with an Israeli accent, but If You name a character "Lilah", and explain in the text that the name means night, and then for the rest of the text refer to the same character as "Lola"..... Well, I can only interpret that as a total lack of respect or care for the book you are reading and for your own craft as an actor!

I will never listen to a book with this narrator reading it again, and shame on Audible and Penquin for not being even slightly more strigent about the ability of the reader to actually read the book they are presenting.

17 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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  • Marcia Knight
  • 15-04-09

Down with accents

I really felt the reader's use of accents ruined this book. If I had known it was going to be a theatrical production rather than a book I would have read it - not listened. When one reads a book, their mind and imagination interpret how the characters are speaking. In this case this was imposed by the reader and really ruined the book.

17 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
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  • Dee
  • 24-06-10

Seriously excrutiating narrator

This is tough one to give a star rating to because if it was just based on the book, I'd give it a 4.5, but if just based on the narration, I'd give it a 1, so I've compromised and given it a 2. Everyone's comments in here were spot on- when the narrator is talking in her regular Australian accent, it's fine. But when she attempts to do the multitude of other accents which occur frequently throughout the book, she is just excrutiating. Most of her other characters sound drunk and slur their words, many sound similar, and none sound accurate. Also, when she tries to pronounce foreign words (even as the supposed native speaking character) she mangles them. The Hebrew pronunciations were so far off that it was hard to even recognize the words. It was so painful every time that she did I found myself wishing it would end.

Basically if I had it to do all over again, I'd buy the book and read it. Which is a real shame, because this is a great book, and with a better narrator it could have been a great audio book.

16 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Julie W. Capell
  • 03-06-09

Illuminating novel about real Jewish holy book

The author obviously did her homework and presents true facts about the book, such as its remarkable escape from harm during WWII and the more recent Yugoslavian civil war courtesy of conscientious Muslim librarians, interspersed with an imagined history of how it came to be in Sarajevo in the first place, centuries after its creation in medieval Spain. Fully realized present-day characters are engaging and the trips into the far past are riveting. Each historic episode is filled with fascinating, sometimes gruesome and even heartbreaking details about life in medieval Europe. Different enough view of Muslim-Jewish-Christian relationships from other books currently in vogue to be recommended. I liked the reader very much, she did different accents for all the characters and really made each one come alive.

16 people found this helpful