02-29-2008 08:48 PM
Hi! I am a late comer to this discussion, but I didn't get a chance to read People of the Book until today. I have devoured most of it, so feel as if I now dare enjoy the posting here. I will slip in a comment or two here and there if pertinent.
The theme of an ancient codex being conserved drew me to the book. I attended a lecture series at the Princeton Adult School on the history of the book awhile back, and it whetted my appetite for more. I have also discovered that the "science" in the book related to presentations our family saw on college visits a few years ago. One of the treats of the book for me has been the inside glimpses of the curators' worlds and where are some of the centers of that work.
Glad to have you. I thought this book was just great and have been disappointed with the lack of discussion. Maybe you will help revive it.
I look forward to talking with you.
02-29-2008 11:01 PM - edited 02-29-2008 11:03 PM
Cathy -- any thoughts on what you would like to discuss about the book? I'm game -- to either engage or pass, depending on the ball you kick, bat, or otherwise maneuver into our court.
HannibalCat wrote..... I thought this book was just great and have been disappointed with the lack of discussion. Maybe you will help revive it.
I look forward to talking with you.
Incidentally, while I may not have "liked" all the actions of the major characters, I enjoyed Brooks' portrayals of their ambitions and the rewards and costs thereof. But I think such a discussion would probably belong on another thread.
Message Edited by Peppermill on 02-29-2008 11:03 PM
03-09-2008 04:19 PM
03-11-2008 05:42 AM
PS -- Online book clubs can be very satisfying once one gets the flavor of how they work. So thanks for joining here.
LucyintheOC wrote:My name is Lucy. I currently live in Southern California, but I much prefer the East Coast. I'm out here for family reasons. I am VERY late in joining the discussion--I hope that I am not too late. I got the book last week and started to read it...then another book under discussion kind of pulled me away--temporarily. (The book was Last Night at the Lobster and it's a very small book...so I decided to read it first so I could join the book club discussion before I was very late there, too!) I am a about one-third of the way through People of the Book. The book did not grab me from the beginning, but as I've continued to read, it is drawing me in more and more. I think this is more a comment on the way I am rather than the quality of the book; there are very few books that have grabbed me immediately. March is on my To-Read list--which just gets longer! I know this is a familiar cant for those of you in the book club...There's always something new that grabs my interest and the books on my To-Read just get pushed back, once again, in the queue. I have a friend who literally has been reading her way through her retirement. However, since my retirement isn't imminent, I shudder to think how long the To-Read list will be at that time! I read Nine Parts of Desire and I didn't realize she was the same author as March. She has a very interesting professional background. I admire that she can write books that are so varied from each other. This book, and Last Night at the Lobster's discussions, are my first true attempts to be a part of the B&N book club community. I tried to join a book club quite a while ago, but had a hard time navigating and understanding how to follow the discussions--so I quit. I'm not a very experienced online computer user. But I am determined to get better at online usage because I really want to be able to participate in these discussions.
03-12-2008 12:58 AM
03-12-2008 09:33 PM
Lucy -- One of the fun aspects of the on-line clubs is that we can have discussions all over the map! Any of us over sixteen, and some probably younger, have lived rich lives to share alongside or within our reactions to what we read. I look forward to your thoughts, and like you, hope some others might return to a POTB conversation!
LucyintheOC wrote:peppermill, thank you for your post. I'm afraid I'm not a well read or intellectually oriented as you seem to be! I've read your posts! I finished the book tonight and I will post my thoughts, simple as they are, there. If you have particular points you'd like to discuss, I'm open to continuing the thread--and maybe some ofthe other club members will return and join in.
03-13-2008 11:48 PM
03-16-2008 12:29 PM
rkubie wrote:Hi Lucy and Pepper,Just to let you know, I'm also still peeking in on this discussion and look forward to your posts!As a starter, I'm curious about which story-line captured your imagination first, Hannah's or the glimpses into the book's history?Rachel
I think Hannah's. I will probably remember more details longer than those related to the book's history. Her story seemed to belong to the world in which we live today. The book stories were heavily interwoven, but I did take the time to unravel them completely -- they remained vignettes about the ravages of time and the dissipation of man through the ages. Yet, the vignettes probably carried the meat of the story.
I didn't look for parallels between the ancient and modern stories. Did I overlook some obvious connections?
03-17-2008 03:31 PM
03-17-2008 05:12 PM - edited 03-17-2008 05:14 PM
LucyintheOC wrote:The book's history/journey was definitely the part that interested me the most; it's why I decided to read the book and that's what held me. I didn't like Hannah much, even through I think what the author did with the character, how she wrote her, was terrific. So what kept me reading was not Hannah's storyline, but the glimpses into lives as people have lived in the past. While this is a work of fiction, there is truth in fiction and that's where my interest lies... as I begin to wonder who I would have been as a person if I had been born into another time and place, and what my life would have been like...What would I have thought about my own world and how would that shape me as a person? How much different, if different at all, would I be from the person I am here and now? How would I face decisions like those characters who peopled the book did?
Lucy -- were there particular stories that have stayed with you?
The ones that I recall without going back to the book include: the family helping the young woman at considerable risk to themselves; the priest who may have been Jewish early in his life and who saved the book from burning at one stage in its journey; the rabbi who gambled; and the woman in Venice who had the book and felt she could no longer live a life of deception. I think the link for me of these stories was the extent to which early experiences ended up affecting later ones, the willingness of people to take risks for others amidst political and societal dangers, and the entangling of weaknesses, strengths, friendships and loyalties.
I also did not develop a full understanding of the intrigues that led to the copy being made -- especially those that seemed to transcend national borders.
Incidentally, in my earlier post, I meant to say that I did NOT disentangle the various stories -- i.e., I did not do a particularly close reading of PotB.
Message Edited by Peppermill on 03-17-2008 05:14 PM
03-19-2008 10:17 PM
03-19-2008 11:11 PM
I shall probably put it alongside the Girl in Hyacinth Blue in thinking about the travails of books and art across time -- but, as I have posted elsewhere, it does link with other things I have read, so I shall probably remember it those ways as well. I don't know, however, whether it will stand on its own -- perhaps as a link to more reading about that part of Europe and the recent chaos there. I think I would be interested in some of Brooks's journalistic writing about the fighting and the conditions after truces were declared.
You also reminded me of things that had already slipped away -- like the Haggadah's supposed origins as a wedding gift. I'm not certain that I found the Muslim slave girl story very convincing, but it certainly allowed Brooks to expand on her theme of the contributions across all sorts of presumed boundaries -- e.g., Jewish, Christian, Islam, ..., adherents of each brought gifts to the creation and preservation of this Haggadah.
LucyintheOC wrote:Hi Peppermill. I had composed a full reply to your post the night you posted but then, I don't know what I did, but I lost it and this is the first chance I've had to take time to reply. Sorry for the delay.
All of the stories have stayed with me, but in their pieces, not in their entirety. What fascinates me are the glimpses into times and lives so different from my own. I have always lived in America at a time when I have the freedom to say, do and be who I want without fear of repercussions, or death. I've never really had my character tested in a serious way--in everyday ways, yes, like all of us--but never something major, something that is a moral decision that could bring danger to myself or my family. ..and I wonder who might I have been and what might I have done and thought if I lived during those times and faced dangerous/perilous decisions. For this reason, the stories interested me--aside from it's always nice to be told a good tale!
I lent the book to a coworker, so I don't have it to reference, but what I understood about the origins of the book is that it was originally produced as a wedding gift. In its time, it would have been a treasured present (because of the preciousness of books in those days) and would have raised eyebrows for the fineness of the gift. The scribe who created it did so for the son of his wealth brother. The pressure was on; he needed a really nice gift. We still live with that kind of pressure today, not much has changed; sometimes one is expected (because of relationship to that person) getting married) to give a really, really nice gift. Eventually the Haggadah was given as a gift of gratitude to a doctor. The illustrator, Zarah, ended up as part of this doctor's household and she did the illumination, also as a gift for the doctor in that she did it for his simple son so he could understand the story/text as he couldn't read--lakin to the stained glass windows in medieval church. Is this what you were referring to regarding the origins of the book, or was it some other aspects?