A Review of People of the Book by Geraldine Brooks

As I mentioned in this post last summer, my first experience with Geraldine Brooks was her nonfiction The Nine Parts of Desire: The Hidden World of Islamic Women. Brooks used her years of experience reporting from the middle east to write a great book that provides a lot of background on Islamic women to those of us far from familiar with their beliefs and lives.

After reading Year of  Wonders last summer (which I realize I’ve never reviewed), I fell in love with Brooks’ fiction work and couldn’t wait to read another one of her books. People of the Book was next up on my list.

People of the Book by Geraldine Brooks

People of the Book
By Geraldine Brooks

Review

People of the Book begins with, Hannah, an ancient book restoration expert in 1996, traveling to Sarajevo to inspect the Sarajevo Haggadah, an important Jewish book that hadn’t surfaced since prior to WWII. As  Hannah inspects the book, she discovers clues that eventually transport us back in time, following the book to its creation.

We follow the book back in time and witness the various atrocities Jews have endured over the years. We learn how the book’s owners survived or lost their lives. Throughout the book, Brooks emphasizes humanity among the atrocities from those who saved the book to those who saved the owners of the book.

Rating

Writing 5 out of 5 stars

Brooks’ writing was clear and transported me along the journey of discovering the book’s origin.

Character Development  4 out of 5 stars

As we travel back, we get to know a lot of fairly well developed characters

Plot Structure 5 out of 5 stars

The organization of the book works really well to move the plot forward.

Storytelling 5 out of 5 stars

Using the real life discovery of the Sarajevo Haggadah, Brooks tells a deep and intriguing story.

Total 4.75 out of 5 stars

Have you read People of the Book? What did you think?

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Weekly Reads: 6.2.2014

It’s so cliche, which I’ve addressed before, but I’m amazed that it’s already June! Summer is upon us!

I’m currently finishing

Loving Frank by Nancy Horan | Weekly Reads at the 1000th Voice

Loving Frank
By Nancy Horan

I’m enjoying this book, but it also pains me and makes me think. I’ll share my extra thoughts when I review it.

Up next, I’m going to also finish reading

Twin Cities Noir | Weekly Reads at the 1000th Voice

Twin Cities Noir

What are you reading this week?

**Linked up with Book Journey**

Richly Descriptive: A Review of Laura Morelli’s The Gondola Maker

The Gondola Maker by Laura Morelli is historical fiction set in Venice on this week's Weekly Reads.

The Gondola Maker
By Laura Morelli

Review

The Gondola Maker is a wonderful piece of historical fiction about Luca Vianello, who is, as you probably guessed, a gondola maker, or actually, he’s the son of a gondola maker. I guess he doesn’t get to be considered a gondola maker himself until his father is dead.

Although it is historical fiction, The Gondola Maker had a very literary fiction feel to it, starting at a slow burn and focusing on a character and his motivations throughout the book. The ending was a little unexpected for me. About halfway through the book I thought I knew how it would end. I appreciated the surprise at the end.

Morelli’s Ph.D. in art history really shows through in her rich descriptions of the art, architecture and gondolas of Venice that transported me into each scene.

Recommendations

Without focusing on the topic, I’ve read a number of great books about Venice. I recommend checking out these great books in addition to picking up The Gondola Maker:

In the Company of Courtesan by Sarah Dunant | Books featuring Venice | The 1000th Voice Blog

In the Company of the Courtesan by Sarah Dunant

Dunant’s historical fiction follows a courtesan escaping Rome during the sacking to take up residence and rebuild her life in Venice. The tie in to Venice around the same time as The Gondola Maker makes this an ideal book to read if you liked this one, Rome or historical fiction.

People of the Book by Geraldine Brooks | Books featuring Venice | The 1000th Voice Blog

People of the Book by Geraldine Brooks

Venice (again around the same time as The Gondola Maker) plays a part during a small section of the book, but the Venetian setting and story are unmistakable.

The City of Falling Angels by John Berendt

John Berendt, who also wrote the successful Midnight in the Garden of Evil, brought his brand of extremely longform journalism to Venice with this amazing book. Following a modern day scandal, Berendt talks about the current city’s struggles and its history that led to where it is today.

Rating

Writing 4 out of 5 stars

Morelli’s descriptive sentences were rich and beautiful.

Character Development 4 out of 5 stars

Luca, the main character, is very developed. His actions throughout the book all make sense based on the traits and characteristics we learn about.

Storytelling 4 out of 5 stars

Morelli’s story is entertaining and well told.

Total 4 out of 5 stars 

Have you read The Gondola Maker or another book (fiction or nonfiction) feature the city of Venice? What did you think?

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I read and reviewed this book as part of an iRead Book Tour.
My only compensation was a free ebook.
All thoughts and opinions are my own. 

Weekly Reads: 4.21.14

March is supposed to come in like a lion weather wise, but I’ve been so busy this month, that I’ve decided the statement applies to my calendar and to do list for the beginning of April as well.

During my lunch break, which I haven’t officially taken for two weeks, I‘m reading

The B2B Social Media Book: Becoming a Marketing Superstar | Weekly Reads at The 1000th Voice blog

The B2B Social Media Book
By Kipp Bodnar & Jeffrey L. Cohen

This book has a lot of great insights for the BSB social media market that I am.

I finished Steve Martin’s An Object of Beauty over the weekend. I absolutely loved it. It was so weird, but so great. I picked up

People of the Book
By Geraldine Brooks

What are you reading this week?

**Linked up with Book Journey**

Perspective Shifting: A Review of Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe

Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the center cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world.

W.B. Yeats, “The Second Coming”

And just like that things did fall apart.

Perspective Shifting: Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe | The 1000th Voice

Things Fall Apart
By Chinua Achebe

Review

There’s a tremendous subtlety in this novel. A tremendous amount of restraint with details, and a thorough understanding of which details to share. Ultimately culminating with a line drenched with irony that summed up the way the intruders really felt about the natives of the land.

I’ve heard a lot about this book, but I was honestly a little intimidated to pick it up. Like I’ve said before about other books, why? Why didn’t I read this sooner? This isn’t the first novel I’ve read written from the perspective of the people who’d been oppressed. But it’s somehow the most impactful. It was, as was the whole book, a very subtle shift, but it was a shift nonetheless.

I’m no stranger to the effects of colonialism and the reasons driving it, but there was something about this book that really drove it home.

Rating

Writing  5 out of 5 stars

Tight, subtleWonderful!

Character Development  4 out of 5 stars

Okonkwo was slowly but carefully developed.

Storytelling  5 out of 5 stars

So many stories mixed into the main story in a wonderful way.

Cultural Impact 5 out of 5 stars

As the most widely read book of modern African literature, the cultural impact of this book is undeniable.

Total 4.75 out of 5 stars

Have you read Things Fall Apart? What did you think?

Sometimes Complicated is a Good Thing: A Review of Beloved by Toni Morrison

If you followed my odyssey of Weekly Read posts last month, you know this wasn’t the easiest book for me to read. If you didn’t, here’s a recap!

Is that a good enough recap? It took me a long time to read the book. But, as I’ve said before, it was worth it.

Sometimes Complicated is a Good Thing: A Review of Beloved by Toni Morrison | The 1000th Voice Blog

Beloved
By Toni Morrison

Review

I will call them my people, which were not my people, and her beloved, which was not beloved. -Romans 9:25 (appeared before the first chapter)

Oh, Beloved what a difficult book you were. For about the first third to half of the book I had difficulty following the storyline. Morrison doesn’t make it easy. Narrators and settings changed between chapters, but the tone was always similar. After I got through that portion of the book, it became much easier for me to follow what was happening, although there were some plot twists that threw me off. But they kept me guessing.

Morrison had interesting language choices throughout the book, but one phrase in particular really caught my attention. When referring to her baby she hadn’t seen for awhile, Sethe called her “crawling-already? baby” to express her surprise, delight and sadness at how quickly her little one was growing up. One reason Sethe was amazed is that babies in slavery are fed well, so they don’t hit milestones quickly, but, once out of slavery with better food, her baby was growing quickly.

Throughout this novel, the reader learns a lot about the plight of slaves pre- and post-Civil War. That’s honestly one of the difficult things about this book. It’s obviously a good thing to learn about, and that’s one of the reasons I wanted to focus on black literature for this month. But, you know, some ultimately good things are difficult to hear.

Rating

Writing 4 out of 5 stars

Morrison’s writing was really good, but it was hard to follow the switch between characters and time settings

Character Development 4 out of 5 stars

The story jumps a lot, so the reader learns a lot or a bit about a lot of characters. They aren’t all well developed, which is generally fine but some should have more development.

Storytelling 4 out of 5 stars

The story is fascinating, but it didn’t always feel like it was told in the most cohesive way.

Total 4 out of 5 stars (that was some really hard math)

Have you read Beloved? What did you think?