I should preface this review by saying that I am not a fan of all historical fiction, but I will read anything Geraldine Brooks writes. And honestly, she picks some themes that make me wonder about my blind faith in her. The plague. The first Native American to graduate Harvard. The Sarajevo Haggadah. These are not your run of the mill topics, and not what I would typically go to a bookstore or a library to request. As I write this, I am thinking, geez Geraldine, I think you are beginning to take advantage of my good will.
I am thinking that, but at the same time I am thinking, how the heck does she make these obscure topics so relevant, so vivid and so riveting? As a Christian, I can say that I have a certain level of familiarity with the characters represented in The Secret Chord, but Brooks truly brings this story to life from the moment she begins, providing context for a story I knew more of in broad-stroked outlines. This has all of the elements I’m looking for in contemporary fiction — a charismatic yet flawed protagonist, a compelling plot with plenty of tension, and well-detailed, realistic characters.
To be fair, this was not my favorite Brooks novel, but then again, the bar is high in my opinion. So take my fandom with a grain of salt — if you are already a fan, you will like this book. If you have never read a Brooks novel, this may be an interesting place to start. If you are wondering why you would ever want to read a book about King David and all of those old bible stories, I’m with you. I totally understand. But do it anyway. This is not a candy-coated made-for-tv movie, this is an epic tale, and you should not miss it.