Whence Came a Prince, Lowlands of Scotland Series #3Whence Came a Prince, Lowlands of Scotland Series #3
Liz Curtis Higgs
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In 18th-century Scotland, the biblical story of Jacob and Esau plays out in the family McKie. Shamed by his past and fearing the future, Jamie returns home to confront the brother he robbed, the father he deceived, and the two women who hold his heart---and his children. Will honor prevail---and at what cost? 496 pages, softcover from Waterbrook.
Whence Came a Prince Discussion Questions by Liz Curtis Higgs

Books should to one of these four ends conduce, For wisdom, piety, delight, or use.

1. Though Jamie McKie appears on the cover, Leana McBride begins our story. What are your hopes for Leana by the end of the first chapter of Whence Came a Prince? And by the end of the tenth chapter? How might this story have unfolded if Leana had remained at Auchengray all along, rather than fleeing to Twyneholm? What if she’d stayed at Burnside Cottage instead of going home?

2. Though Jamie McKie’s affections are captured first by one sister, then by the other, he takes his time shifting allegiances. Do you sympathize with his struggles or find him fickle? Does Leana’s written entreaty—“Love my sister”—justify his actions? How would you explain Jamie’s turning his heart toward Rose once more?

3. Though wee Ian can only babble and wave his arms about, he is integral to this family’s story. How would you describe Leana’s relationship with her son? What of Rose’s bond with Ian? And Jamie’s, father to son? Did you find yourself wanting to care for Ian—or perhaps for your own child—while reading Whence Came a Prince? At what points in the story did your mothering urges surface?

4. How do marriage and impending motherhood help Rose mature? Leana tells her, “’Tis Jamie’s love for you and yours for him that make you fearless.” Do you agree? What else might make Rose fearless? If you’ve read Fair Is the Rose, how have your feelings toward her changed after reading this novel? From your viewpoint does Rose become a true heroine at the last?

5. In what way is Rose like her father, and how is she different? If Rose were your daughter, how might you have counseled her at the pivotal moment she is alone in the spence with Lachlan’s money box? What do you think of Rose’s solution for distributing the stolen gold? What would you have done with it? How might things have been different if Rose had told Jamie from the beginning?

6. The epigraphs that begin each chapter are meant to link the previous scene with the current one or to hint at what’s to come. In what ways do Sir Walter Scott’s words at the start of chapter 42 epitomize Jamie’s dilemma? Choose an epigraph that you especially like. How does that quote foreshadow the scene it introduces?

7. True to this period in Scottish history, religion plays a major role in the day-to-day lives of these Lowlanders. How would you define Leana’s relationship with God? What of Jamie’s faith? and Rose’s? Which one of the three most closely parallels your own spiritual journey? God promises, “I will not fail thee, nor forsake thee.” What evidence do you find of his steadfastness in this story?

8. Throughout much of the novel Leana finds herself in a very difficult situation, offering her sister loving support even as she, too, carries Jamie’s child. How would you characterize Leana—a role model? a martyr? a righteous woman? a fool? Do you empathize with her plight? What other options appropriate to the late eighteenth century might Leana have explored?

9. Scottish folklore is replete with kelpies—water spirits that assume the form of a horse. John Mactaggart, in his Scottish Gallovidian Encyclopedia (1824), calls them “evil-disposed beings of the supernatural stamp.” On that fateful night in Moneypool Burn, was Jamie indeed wrestling with a kelpie? with mud and sand? with God? with his brother? with himself? How did the experience change him, and why?

10. Were you prepared for the story to take a tragic turn in Monnigaff? What feelings did those scenes with Rose evoke? Was anyone truly at fault for what happened? Did the emotional aftermath ring true to your own life experiences?

11. How would you define Jamie’s character at the start of this novel? Through his trials and tests in Gatehouse of Fleet, Ferrytown of Cree, and Monnigaff? And at the end of the story in Glentrool? Jamie sees in his wife’s eyes “a love he would spend the rest of his life trying to deserve.” Does Jamie in fact deserve her love? When all is said and done, has Jamie McKie earned the title of “prince,” of hero?

12. This Reader’s Guide opens with a quote from Sir John Denham, an Irish poet of the seventeenth century. Do you agree that books should lead to one of four ends: wisdom, piety, delight, or use? In reading Whence Came a Prince, what wisdom did you glean? Was there anything of spiritual significance for you? What engaged you most in the story? And how might you apply the lessons you’ve learned? If you were describing this series of three novels to a friend who enjoys fiction, what would you tell her?

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