The setting of Brooks’s People of the Book includes changes in scenery and in time. Hanna, the protagonist, tells her story, beginning in 1996, as she travels from her home in Australia. Hannah travels to Bosnia, Vienna, Boston, London, and back home—a full circling of the globe.
As the story of the Haggadah is told in flashbacks that reach into the fifteenth century, the novel visits Spain in 1480 and in 1492, Venice in 1609, Vienna in 1894, and Sarajevo in 1940. The story concludes in 2002, first visiting Israel then going back to Australia and Bosnia.
The changes in time and scenery are accompanied by changes in culture. The stories of Jews, Muslims, or Christians and their cultures are introduced every time the setting is changed. By changing the setting and the time, the author is able to bring history alive rather than just referring to it by presenting researched information.
Wrapping the novel’s present time frame around the past holds the story together. Readers become involved in Hanna’s development as the story unfolds. This allows the author to introduce the imagined portions of the story, the story of the Haggadah.