King David spies on beautiful Bathsheba as she bathes and his desire drives him to acts of such callousness that even his god turns away from him. Only through searching penitence and the psalms that express this can he find him way back into the light.
A world and centuries away, King Henry VIII looks up at his prized tapestries of David and Bathsheba and sees in David a mighty predecessor, defender of the faith.
Henry’s courtier-poet, Sir Thomas Wyatt, sees instead two kings who take what they want, careless of the lives they destroy in the process – David’s lust led him to murder, while Henry is ruthless in his pursuit of Ann Boleyn and the son she has promised him … more ruthless still when she fails to provide an heir.
Wyatt too, once dangerously close to Ann himself, is caught in the slipstream of wilful power. David’s psalms of penitence reach across the years to touch and speak to him directly. Shackled in a cell in the Tower of London, not expecting to get out alive, he thinks of his beloved falcon Lukkes, and wishes he too could fly.
Lux weaves past and present into a story of love and its reach, fidelity and faith, power and poetry, for readers of Marilynne Robinson, Anne Carson, and Hilary Mantel.
'This book is a spell. Cook's retelling of these old stories is masterful, immersive, lyrical, and psychologically profound. With the deftest of touches, she illuminates these well-known figures, David, Bathsheba, Thomas Wyatt, and makes them shine anew.' -- Madeline Miller, author of Circe 'Hugely ambitious and very beautiful.' * BBC Radio 4's, Saturday Review * 'Cook writes with impressive empathy ... There is both a painterly eye and a physicality about her prose.' -- Diana Hendry * The Spectator * 'Cook's account of an Old Testament repentance is a full-throated one.' -- Elizabeth Buchan * Daily Mail * 'Intelligence, originality, and poetic grace ... Ms. Cook reflects on the momentous change by tenderly humanising all of these larger-than-life characters. Her portrayal of Bathsheba is both more compassionate and more convincing than the usual caricature of a power-hungry seductress. Her David, too, is remarkably approachable ... Again and again in this discerning novel, sin and suffering culminate in a majestic work of humility and praise.' -- Sam Sacks * The Wall Street Journal * 'Lux emerges as an unusual and accomplished page turner. It's ambitious, incredibly detailed ... the clarity and beauty of the prose is a joy. An overwhelming sense of destiny is palpable and defining.' -- Kevin O'Sullivan * Irish Examiner * 'Elizabeth Cook's visual imagination is as sharp and gorgeous as any Pre-Raphaelite painter's. Her psychological penetration is deep and compassionate. They are both unfailing as she weaves together the stories of King David and Bathsheba and of Thomas Wyatt and Ann Boleyn. If this is, in a way, a tour de force, it doesn't read like that: the connections are organic and realistic, gripping the reader and integral to the rapid movement of the narrative.' -- John Drury, author of Music at Midnight 'Almost two decades in the making, Lux is well worth the wait. Like its predecessor Achilles, it's an ambitious and compelling novel, equally vivid in its conjuring of myth and history, particularly striking in its portrayal of religious belief under pressure, the nature of holiness and the sacred. It's a remarkable book.' -- Michael Symmons Roberts, author of Drysalter 'Cook's quietly masterful prose builds a huge world, unsentimental, numinous and deeply moving. Longing, appetite, love, grief, regret, and their consequences: Lux, Wyatt's falcon, is named for the luxury of courts and concupiscence but also the light of the desert, of song, of David's Yahweh. This novel is a joy to read.' -- Susan Hitch 'An ambitious attempt to yoke together two narratives separated in time but not in their timeless resonances.' -- Howard Cooper * Jewish Chronicle * 'A well-told thinker of a read.' -- Jon Wise * Weekend Sport * 'In her second novel, Elizabeth Cook has followed her own passions ... to good effect. Her command of language, and of her material, makes this an extremely satisfying read.' * Anne Goodwin * 'Lux is a remarkable interweaving of one ancient king's story and his place as redeemer within and beyond Judaism.' -- Rabbi Dr Aviva Kipen * J-Wire * 'Cook writes beautiful and complicated prose, befitting of the subjects she chooses ... Informed by the Judeo-Christian spiritual tradition without being subject to it, here is the rare book that functions on multiple levels, inspiring new ideas and insights with each re-reading ... The most powerful chapters of Lux are those spent with women ... Cook plucks these hollowed-out characters from Samuel and imbues them with souls. She circles the Bible story of David and Bathsheba, plumbs its depths and breathes life into it, creating the type of mannered, academic leaning novel that the English seem to adore ... But press down firmly on the cover and the words, regardless of how beautiful they are, will flow out its sides like water from a sponge.' -- Tara Cheesman * On the Seawall *
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