I have loved all of Geraldine Brooks’s novels but unfortunately this is probably my least favourite.
Before this book I didn’t know much about the life of King David (I’m not sure why as he is an important historical figure for Jews, Christians and Muslims), so I was keen to learn. From that point of view, the book was excellent and I learned a lot. I’m not sure how closely the story follows the original recorded history and how contentious the story is.
The original history is recorded by David’s prophet Natan and he is the main narrator of this story.
The book was fairly difficult to read and this is unusual for Brooks. Hebrew names were used instead of the English names that most of us are used to. Several times I had to disrupt my reading to go back to the name translation table at the front of the book. Place names were also difficult to work out. The small map in the book contained only a fraction of the places mentioned and some no longer exist, so I often had no idea of distances.
As far as King David is concerned, there seems to be more to dislike about him than to like. As his power grew, he took what he wanted. He was a rapist, a murderer and an appalling father as well as a brilliant leader who united the tribes of Israel.
The book didn’t leave me with a warm sense of the unity of Israel and I wished it had gone further (past David’s death) to Solomon building his temple.
This book just wasn’t as enjoyable as the other Geraldine Brooks books that I’ve read, but that certainly won’t stop me from reading her future books.
Book Published 2015