The Secret Chord reviewed by Stephanie

The Secret Chord

I was not very knowledgeable about David and only knew of the famous story of David killing Goliath with a stone and slingshot. This book is a rich historical account of David’s trajectory from being six and ousted from his family and the many roles he played in leading his people until his old age. Part legend, part history, the book contains many characters in various times and locations not all necessarily in chronological order.

I felt frustrated reading the first half of the book and nearly dumped it, but then I became consumed by the storytelling of Nathan, (part prophet advisor to David) who gives voice to many of the other characters and a deeper understanding of David’s motivations and desires. I think Geraldine Brooks’ writing is amazing but this was, on the scale of things, quite difficult to read but incredibly well written and brings to life the prevailing forces and characters of that time.

It has encouraged me to learn more about this period of history and unsurprisingly we find that David’s quest for power and lust for beautiful women brought about a tragic end for his family. The title of the novel refers to David’s love of the harp, the story somewhat inspired by Brooks’ own son who took his bar mitzvah seven years ago and has a talent for the harp.

I can envisage this book as a movie, which would make more sense to me, given the period and difficulty of remembering the names in Hebrew. In the end I thoroughly enjoyed this book – just took a long time to get the gist of it.

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