Friday, April 16, 2010

Here Burns My Candle
by Liz Curtis Higgs
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Available in paperback, Kindle, audio CD or audio download. Waterbrook Press, 2010; ISBN: 1400070015; 480 pages.

Here Burns My Candle offers a rich, historical drama based loosely upon the Scriptural book of Ruth. I don’t know how you feel about novels based on biblical stories. I truly enjoy them, but am very selective about to whom I’ll recommend them. Some readers find it difficult to separate biblical truth from creative license and author’s imagination. Higgs’s books, though, provide the basis of the biblical stories, but in far removed settings. I would rather call them parallel novels than novelizations. It’s not the same story told again; it’s the same bones with fresh flesh.

Carolyn Custis James asserts in her book, The Gospel According to Ruth, that this biblical story is more about Naomi than Ruth. Rather than telling a romantic story of a young, but faithful widow, it answers the questions pounding a devastated mother-in-law. Is God good for women? Has my usefulness expired? Liz Curtis Higgs follows this theory with her newest title, by focusing on the “Naomi” character as much, if not more than, the “Ruth” character.

Set in Edingburgh, Scotland, during the 1745 Jacobite rebellion, Here Burns My Candle follows the Ladies Marjory and Elizabeth Kerr, mother and daughter-in-law. Marjory, a wealthy Lowland socialite, has never truly accepted her son’s choice of bride. Sure, Elizabeth is strikingly beautiful, but she comes from an unrefined Highland upbringing. To make matters worse, she favors the Jacobite cause, which is the equivalent of treason. Marjory’s other daughter-in-law, Janet, is much more suited to high society and fully embraced the roles of lord and ladies. Elizabeth, however, has more personal concerns, like the faithfulness of her husband, the safety of her brother, the marriage of her mother, and the scandalous gossip encircling her. Few answers come through the faith of her childhood. Could there be another who could help her? When Marjory’s two sons join the rebellion, some relationships are strengthened while others are stretched far beyond comfort.

I really enjoyed this book! It’s thick with drama and emotion. The author’s attention to detail never wavers. As previously stated, I consider this a parallel story, rather than a re-telling. The book of Ruth only devotes a few verses to the life before Ruth and Naomi’s great journey back to Bethlehem. This novel, however, contained over 300 pages of story before I saw any correlation to the Scriptural account. This is not a negative criticism. Actually, I prefer it that way. I like that this book can be enjoyed as an independent historical novel or as a window for better understanding Scripture. It’s a great read.

Final Thoughts: A tremendous story expertly written. I can't believe I have to wait a whole year for the sequel!

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