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Archive: Other Books > The Secret Chord by Geraldine Brooks, 4 stars

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message 1: by Kristel (last edited Jun 11, 2016 11:24AM) (new)

Kristel (kristelh) | 696 comments The Secret Chord was my pick for our f2f bookclub. I was intrigued that this was a retelling of the story of David and it had received some great reviews by some readers at PBT. I happen to know the story of David very well. I've read it in the Bible many times so I was curious. First off, This book is written by Geraldine Brooks, author of March and Year of Wonder which I've read. Geraldine Brooks was an agnostic who married a secular Jew. She chose to convert because "Judaism is passed down through the maternal line". So I think for me, I needed to keep in mind as I read this book that it was written, not from Christian perspective but a Jewish one. She consulted rabbi Caryn Broitman and the late Jewish theologian Abraham Joshua Heschel about Hebrew prophets. She used the Hebrew names rather than the translated names we find in the Bible that Christians read. Finally, Ms Brooks used imaginative empathy to write the story and fill in gaps. This is a pretty good retelling of the scripture story of David. She covered the family of David and may have taken a lot of license there, making David the unwanted child of the family. I don't think that because he was out with the sheep (a normal occupation for Hebrews) that made him unloved by his father but he was the youngest, and the oldest is always the favored as far as blessings. She was clear to let us know that David was not a child, he was a young man (adolescent). It is true that Christian Sunday schools sometimes make David a boy. The womanizing and wars was well done. David's sins were visited on to his children, not because David sinned but because David was a poor father, an indulgent father and a poor role model for his boys. Nathan the prophet. There are definite missing information when it comes to Nathan. I always assumed he was Jewish but it doesn't give us any information other than he was a prophet and adviser to the King. Bathsheba the wife of Uriah. Ms Brooks did a great job with this. I have heard one sermon by a Christian minister who did as well. Bathsheba was a young girl. Bathing on the roof top was not an abnormal or seductive act. The king should have not looked. He should not have summoned her. What young girl when summoned by the King of the nation can say no. The sin was not Bathsheba's it was David's. One area that I differ on, Ms Brooks took the easy way out and maybe politically expedite way was the love between David and Jonathan. Stating David and Jonathan were in a homosexual relationship is something that has been put forth by the gay community. It is based on II Samuel where it states "Your love for me was wonderful, more wonderful than that of women." I think it is equally likely that in culture where women and men do not mix and especially when men our fighting wars, they develop love toward each other that is greater than the love of women or even family. You see this "love" in All Quiet on the Western Front and Band of Brothers. Because of the Jewish perspective there is nothing about the prophecy of the Messiah coming through David (Jesus) or his descendant sitting at the right hand side of God (The NAME). This is another reason why I do not believe this was a homosexual relationship. The NAME chose David (and Bathsheba) as the line that the Messiah would come. David loved God, he was a man after GOD's heart. Ms Brooks did a good job with the worship scene where David truly expressed worship and was despised by his wife Mickal.

I listened to the audio of this read by Paul Boehmer. It was well done, not maybe exceptional but easy to listen to at 1.5 speed. I used the non Hebrew spellings in my review because I did not have the written text, so it was just easier to spell it the familiar way.


message 2: by Jgrace (new)

Jgrace | 2709 comments Great review, Kristel. I really appreciate your perspective on this book. I thought it was very well done, researched with a plausible interpretation. But that doesn't mean it's the only interpretation.


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