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Publisher's Summary

“A page turner... Brooks is a master at bringing the past alive...in her skillful hands the issues of the past echo our own deepest concerns: love and loss, drama and tragedy, chaos and brutality.” (Alice Hoffman, The Washington Post)

A rich and utterly absorbing novel about the life of King David, from the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of People of the Book and March. 

With more than two million copies of her novels sold, New York Times best-selling author Geraldine Brooks has achieved both popular and critical acclaim. Now, Brooks takes on one of literature's richest and most enigmatic figures: a man who shimmers between history and legend. Peeling away the myth to bring David to life in Second Iron Age Israel, Brooks traces the arc of his journey from obscurity to fame, from shepherd to soldier, from hero to traitor, from beloved king to murderous despot and into his remorseful and diminished dotage. 

The Secret Chord provides new context for some of the best-known episodes of David's life while also focusing on others, even more remarkable and emotionally intense, that have been neglected. We see David through the eyes of those who love him or fear him - from the prophet Natan, voice of his conscience; to his wives, Mikhal, Avigail, and Batsheva; and finally to Solomon, the late-born son who redeems his Lear-like old age. Brooks has an uncanny ability to hear and transform characters from history, and this beautifully written, unvarnished saga of faith, desire, family, ambition, betrayal, and power will enthrall her many fans.

©2015 Geraldine Brooks (P)2015 Penguin Audio

Critic Reviews

"Narrator Paul Boehmer delivers a superb performance of Geraldine Brooks's reimagining of the life of King David. Boehmer's characters live through his vocal magic." (AudioFile)

“A page turner...Brooks is a master at bringing the past alive...in [her]skillful hands the issues of the past echo our own deepest concerns:  love and loss, drama and tragedy, chaos and brutality.” (Alice Hoffman, The Washington Post)

“The Secret Chord - a thundering, gritty, emotionally devastating reconsideration of the story of King David - makes a masterly case for the generative power of retelling...some of the magic here has to do with setting and time - for sensory dramatics, it’s hard to compete with the Iron Age Middle East...but Brooks’ real accomplishment is that she also enables readers to feel the spirit of the place.” (The New York Times)

What listeners say about The Secret Chord

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  • Overall
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Fictional Narrative of a great biblical character

I loved listening to this book because it made the story of David from the Bible come alive. But it's important to note that the author took much liberty in adding to the story. For example, this story portrayed David and Jonathan's love for each other as being homosexual in nature, but the Bible never says that. Also, the description of Tamar's rape by her half brother is very explicit. Therefore I only recommend this book for those who can handle a wordly perspective of the story of King David. Personally I really liked it, but I made sure to go back and reread the story of David in the book of Samuel in the Bible so I could tell fact from fiction.

19 people found this helpful

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Flawed Perfection

Rare is the book that can take an historic personage and incarnate it with realistic flesh and blood. Brooks is a master of this art. As a clergyman I thought I knew the biblical David even with his ever so public flaws. Brooks has introduced a very human David...a man who can and does still inspire because he truly is a biblical 'Everyman'.

17 people found this helpful

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Disappointing

I have always found David a fascinating character, so I was looking forward to this book. Listening to it makes me wish I had the King James Bible instead. The performance is terribly over done, so perhaps the novel would be better in print. But I don't feel I've learned anything from it, and writing sometimes reminds me of fan fiction.

13 people found this helpful

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Hebrew Pronunciation is Awful

As a Hebrew speaker, the pronunciation of the Hebrew names and terms in this book is so bad that it is painful to listen at times. I almost want a refund - and I am only in chapter 2!

13 people found this helpful

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Brooks at her best

Loved this book. Am a history buff and very interested in Biblical characters especially David. It is told by Nathan, David,s prophet. I know it is partially fiction but Brooks has a remarkable gift of filling in the blanks l.e.the thoughts and feelings of the characters and what could so logically could have happened. The narrator is fabulous. He uses the Hebrew pronunciation of all the names which can be confusing I went to 1&2 Samuel when I couldn't figure out the character I have a different attitude toward David now that I have read Brooks' insightful story.

11 people found this helpful

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loved it

good read mostly true to scripture , followed Davids life very well and added alot of emotion to the Bible narrative . I understand it's hard to stay100% true to scripture in a novel as there's alot of blanks to fill in .Hence it's fiction .

10 people found this helpful

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Exquisite fiction

I've never read a better work of fiction based on the Bible. Brooks is a gifted storyteller who respects her source material and her audience while still boldly imagining and reimagining many iconic characters and stories. Breathtaking.

8 people found this helpful

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A book well worth the adventure it describes

In the early section of this book I found it slow going. But when I got to know the man people I became glued to it. I soon found it difficult to put down . brooks choice to focus on a turbulent period in middle Eastern history which at times is bloody and at others shows a growing progressive state building I would strongly recommend it!

7 people found this helpful

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Love the authors works but not this one.

I just could not get into this story. I'll give it another try soon, but don't see myself completing it.

7 people found this helpful

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Mispronunciations: a fingernail on a blackboard

Is there anything you would change about this book?

This review is to focus on one aspect of the reading, In general Mr. Boehmer is excellent but he and we are put at a huge disadvantage. I have contacted Audible about this in the past regarding other books and they say it is a publishers problem. No help there either. There must be actors and professional readers who can pronounce Hebrew natively or can be coached. An otherwise pleasant reading of an otherwise ok book (in my estimation) is quite ruined by the sometimes sad efforts at foreign pronunciation. Further, if you want a book that dwells quite heavily on the currently fashionable supposed homosexual relationship between David and Jonathan, this is a book for you.

Would you be willing to try another book from Geraldine Brooks? Why or why not?

I would like to try other Geraldine Brooks works. She is after all an award winning author and my issue with mispronunciation of Hebrew words would probably not apply to those other works.

What do you think the narrator could have done better?

I wish the narrator had been given serious coaching in Hebrew pronunciation. I'm certain he would have been up the task and would have been much prouder of his work. It probably would enhance his resume as well.

Was The Secret Chord worth the listening time?

I'm willing to give time to a book that people are talking about even, perhaps especially, when I don't agree with the good reviews. It makes for interesting conversation.

6 people found this helpful

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