Thursday, April 7, 2011

Blogging for Book Review: Here Burns my Candle

Here Burns my Candle by Liz Curtis Higgs
Here Burns My Candle: A Novel

(From the back cover)

Lady Elizabeth Kerr is a keeper of secrets.  A Highlander by birth and a Lowlander by marriage, she honors the auld ways, even as doubts and fears stir deep within her.

Her husband, Lord Donald, has secrets of his own, well hidden from the household, yet whispered among the town gossips.

His mother, the dowager Lady Marjory, hides gold beneath her floor and guilt inside her heart.  Though her two abiding passions are maintaining her place in society and coddling her grown sons, Marjory's many regrets, buried in Greyfriars Churchyard, continue to plague her.

One by one the Kerr family secrets begin to surface, even as bonny Prince Charlie and his rebel army ride into Edinburgh in September 1745, intent on capturing the crown.

A timeless story of love and betrayal, loss and redemption, flickering against the vivid backdrop of eighteenth-century Scotland, Here Burns My Candle illuminates the dark side of human nature, even as hope, the brightest of tapers, lights the way home.

My Thoughts:

I absolutely loved this book.  Like her previous books, Higgs takes a well-know Bible story and sets it into eighteenth century Scotland giving us a rich view of life there. 

I do have to admit I was unsure about the book at first.  It started off very slowly; but once I realized that I need to regard this book more like a novel of manners - in the same sense as Pride and Prejudice - it suddenly became more interesting.  As I read, I started noticing all the wonderful little details of Scottish life woven into the story - the interesting food, the "proper" way to do things in high society, even the way bills were only paid twice a year.  Higgs did a great job of accurately portraying that world and drawing the reader into it.  For a week, I got to feel like I was a part of the Edinburgh society of 1745.

Higgs' writing style is beautiful and very poetic.  You couldn't help trying out your Scottish brogue as you read the language used by the "commonfolk" in the book.

I also found the story very interesting.  As I said before, the action isn't fast paced but the thoughts of the characters and their resulting actions are very engaging.  Knowing that the book was a retelling of the story of Ruth had both its good and bad points.  This book is about the first 8 verses of Ruth (the sequel tells the rest of the story).  When you read the first 8 verses of Ruth, you find out you don't know too much of the backstory - the time before Ruth left with Naomi.  That backstory is the part Higgs elaborates on in this book.  She uses her spiritual imagination, if you will.  On the converse side, it is a little frustrating having this knowledge because then I know what's going to happen.  That being said, I think this was a masterful retelling of the book of Ruth and I highly recommend it.

I give this book 5 out of 5 stars.

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