|Hot Cross Buns at Woolies on the second day of 2016...|
Geraldine Brook's 'The Secret Chord' is technically a 2015 new release but time moves slowly in the world of the bookworm mum. 'The Secret Chord' is another of Brooks' historical masterpieces. She has a knack of breathing new life into whatever aspect of history she chooses to focus her creativity on. Characters are complex and painted vividly both by their words and also in the way they are described. The voices of her narrators are compelling and considered. As a person with huge gaps in my historical knowledge I come to a Brooks novel knowing next to nothing about the events and people central to the novel but reach that last page armed with a good working knowledge of it all. I've even been inspired to google a bit around what I've read. It's happened with ever Brooks novel I've read and I am sure it will happen with everything she writes in the future.
'The Secret Chord' is set in the Biblical era of King David, the warrior, poet and musician. It is narrated by Natan, David's seer and prophet. Natan entered David's inner circle after he uttered a prophesy about David eventually becoming King if Israel. The prophesy was uttered by the child Natan while he was covered in the blood of his father whom David had murdered for failing to cede to a request for food and valuables to supply David's army and offer protection to Natan's family and people.
As time passes, what seems an improbable future for the warrior David becomes more of a reality with the visions of Natan and the war victories that David accumulates. It is a brutal path on which what has to be done, has to be done. No matter the human cost, the loss of innocence, the bloodshed. Natan matures quickly beyond his years in the army camp and often needs large amounts of wine to help his mind find peace after his eyes have witnessed yet another day of atrocities committed in the name of David.
Relatively speaking, David's professional life as a man of war is easy compared to his complicated personal life. Numerous wives become his for reasons varying from true love, war victories, politics and lust. With the numerous wives come numerous children, all of whom enjoy a life of privilege in his kingdom which proves to be the downfall of most of them.
'The Secret Chord' chronicles the struggles to become King, the years of excess and triumph and then the predictable sad unravelling of the man at the hands of both his family and his numerous enemies. The one light in David's final years, and also of Natan's is Shlomo (Solomon) who is one of David's sons who managed to survive the fratricide that marked the price David had to pay for the crimes he committed against hundreds of innocent people. The novel ends with Shlomo taking the throne ahead of one of his elder and debauched brothers after some wheeling and dealing by Natan and Shlomo's mother Bathsheba.
If you're looking for an easy but intelligent read that will take you back in time to the beginnings of civilisation and bring it to life for you, get your hands on a copy of 'The Secret Chord' now. And be prepared to be held hostage by its pages in your bed or on the sofa.
I know it's a bit early but have you got any nominations for your best read of 2016 yet?
Bought any hot cross buns yet?