Tuesday, January 5, 2016

The Secret Chord by Geraldine Brooks


In The Secret Chord, Geraldine Brooks brings to light the story of King David of the Old Testament as told in the Second Book of Samuel.  King David's life is explored in the present and in flashback by Natan - his prophet whom he met when he was in exile - and through various other characters that focus on his earlier life. 

I have read most of Brooks's books - People of the Book being one of my all-time favorites - and excited to reading this one.  I had heard some mixed reviews, but overall I was very impressed by this book.  There were a few things that didn't wow me as much as I would have liked.  The first part of the book focused on Natan visiting individuals in David's earlier life for a kind of biography.  I was looking forward to hearing David's life from the different characters as the book progressed, but instead only a few were talked to and then the rest of David's past was told through Natan.  This was fine, but not what I had expected and not what the first part of the novel built up to.  There was also a bit too much focus on various battles for my taste.  That being said, I still found myself not wanting to put this book down.  Geraldine Brooks's writing is - and always has been - extremely beautiful filled with vivid imagery and wonderful storytelling.  I could have read another 500 pages - even about not at all interesting battles and military strategies - which just goes to show that great writers and great writers no matter what they are writing about.

I also really appreciated the accuracy of the book - as far as I could tell.  About halfway through the book, I went back and read the parts of the Bible that included King David - something I with I would have done right away.  It's been awhile, so I was expecting there to be some verses of course or maybe a few chapters.  Instead I found that the twenty-four chapters were almost entirely dedicated to King David and his family.  As I read through the verses, I was surprised how accurate Brooks interpretation was.  She of course embellished a lot  - especially the relationship between the different characters - but the basic details were spot on.  Although a great leader, David's life was not glorified in this book, but instead he was shown as a real character - faults and all.

It wasn't perfect - I don't think much could compare to People of the Book - but I very much enjoyed this book and the story that it told.  

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