I’ve just finished reading “The Secret Chord” by Geraldine Brooks. On the front of this book it says “Winner of the Pulitzer Prize” and I thought, wow, this book is sure to be amazing because it won this prestigious award. Well, when you read the inside of the dust-jacket, it says that this book is from the Pulitzer Prize winning author of “People of the Book”, “Year of Wonders” and “March”. So I think Geraldine Brooks won the Pulitzer Prize for other books, not this one!
“The Secret Chord” is the story of King David, based on 1 and 2 Samuel in the Bible.
The book uses the Bible as a guide and does follow the story quite well, but I found some of the language and themes she has brought in to be quite offensive and I thought it ruined what would have been a fabulous re-telling of a the life of an important biblical character.
Geraldine has used character names and place names in their transliteration from the Hebrew. This took a bit of getting used to and I found it quite annoying actually. For example, Shlomo is the name for Solomon and Yishai is the name for Jesse, David’s father. There are a couple of pages in the front of the book to help you figure out the names but I didn’t like it!
I did like that it was written from the perspective of Nathan, the prophet. Nathan advised David and prophesied to David, giving him insight and guidance from God as he ruled over his kingdom. Nathan explains David’s shortcomings and sinful ways, showing us how God can use any of us. We don’t need to be holy and perfect or to earn God’s grace and mercy. God gives blessing upon blessing to us freely, despite us dripping in sin.
I think it is good to read books like this because it helps to connect with the Bible. The characters are described and made real through story even though authors put their own spin on things. I didn’t love this book, but I’m glad I’ve read it because now I want to go back and read 1 and 2 Samuel from the Bible. Any book that makes you hungry to read the Bible more can’t be too bad!