In her recent novel, The Secret Chord, Geraldine Brooks attempts to recreate the story of King David. David Wolpe deems the book “skillful and eloquent,” and attributes part of its success to Brooks’s choice of narrator:
Brooks succeeds here by fashioning a compelling narrative voice in the prophet Nathan. In the Bible itself, Nathan plays a key role in the Bathsheba saga and the succession at the end of David’s life. The book of Samuel does not state that Nathan was present at the events he narrates in Brooks’s account, or even knew the people he quotes. But Nathan is a reasonable choice to see the many sides of David: lover, warrior, poet, musician, murderer, penitent, leader, father, son, king. The king’s protean personality comes through in the biblical story. Brooks tries to flesh it out, with the inevitable loss of the Bible’s cryptic power but with a gain of fully orchestrated scenes that, in the Bible, are single notes. When describing [David’s son] Amnon’s rape of [his sister] Tamar, for example, Brooks forces the reader to encounter the full depravity and cruelty of the event.
More about: Arts & Culture, Book of Samuel, Fiction, Hebrew Bible, King David