Review Blog

Dec 02 2015

The secret chord by Geraldine Brooks

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Hachette, 2015. ISBN 9780733632174
(Age: 16+) Highly recommended. Historical. King David. Biblical times. Violence. Pulitzer Prize winner author, Geraldine Brooks has brought to life the story of the biblical King David in this compelling tale bridging his life as a young boy, as a fighter, a hero, a stately king and finally an old man who has been corrupted by power. It is told in the words of the prophet Natan, who was close to David from the time when David took him from the village where everyone else had been slaughtered to the time of his death.
Brooks tells a violent and cruel story as the reader is taken on a compelling and enthralling voyage through the Second Iron Age. David was a neglected and abused shepherd boy when he faced down the giant Goliath and won. From then he becomes a leader and soldier and ultimately king. Brooks doesn't flinch from descriptions of the violence of the times. Battles and murders are described in detail and the reader is sometimes left reeling from the slaughter and cruelty that occurred. The power that David wielded as a king was enormous, and gradually he began to abuse it, taking what he wanted without regard to his loyal friends or the feelings of those around him. David is not only seen through the eyes of Natan, but through the eyes of his wives Mikhal, Avigail, and Batsheva and their stories leave an emotional impact.
The often beautiful and lyrical language made it a stand out read for me. David's strengths and flaws are brought to life, by writing of an author at the top of her game.  Right from the first page the descriptions are so vivid and graphic that even though many of David's actions are indescribably painful, it is impossible not to continue reading.
Brooks' has a fascinating afterword where she describes how her son's decision to learn the harp lead to her decision to research and write about David, and indeed she lists many scholarly works as her inspiration as well as the Bible.
This is not always an easy read, due to the corruption, violence and bloodshed, but ultimately it is a rewarding and unforgettable one.
Pat Pledger

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