"When the flame began to lick the edges, Elisabeth let his unsigned letter slip from her hands into the grate and watched Donald's sins turn to ash."
Lady Elisabeth Kerr wasn't born with the typical resolve of a young society-dweller to climb the proverbial ladder of titles. A Highlander by birth and a silent follower of the auld ways, she is misplaced in the city of Edinburgh among her husband's family. Despite conflict, she remains deeply and, seemingly, mutually entranced with her husband - someone with his own secrets to keep. Her mother-in-law, the dowager Lady Marjory, and her sister-in-law by way of her husband's brother, Mrs. Janet Kerr, dwell within the same household offering bracing personalities and passive disapproval. However, the pulsing vibration of coins beneath the dowager lady's floorboards beat into a grasping story of their own.
"Here Burns My Candle" holds a very special place in my heart for a number of reasons. However, the main point relevant to this review would be that it marked a newly ignited flame for audiobooks. I listened to Liz Curtis Higgs' voice on a long car trip to visit my parents and then on my (short) commute to and from work for several weeks after.
As a historical novel, "Here Burns My Candle" soars above others. I, purposely, do not have an extensive collection of Christian fiction, as it is not something I typically gravitate towards due to themes or their sometimes repetitive nature. "Here Burns My Candle" does not push an over-ambitious sermon into the reader's experience - pulling from the story. Instead, the religious elements of the book are woven into the fabric of what's presented, more as a plot point than an agenda, despite the out-rightly Biblical roots drawn from the story of Ruth and Naomi.
Through reading several reviews, I've gathered there has been some displeasure with Higgs' use of Scots terms. As I listened to the audiobook, I cannot comment on this as an issue with readability, but, for it's part in my experience, I felt these terms helped me to further immerse myself into the impeccably researched culture and atmosphere of Edinburgh in 1745.
Every detail was studied down to its marrow for purest accuracy, and it's something I proudly display on my shelf. If you enjoy the concept of 18th Century Scotland, this is a book for you.
Elisabeth Kerr enjoys a privileged life while carefully guarding secrets of her past. Having grown up as a Highlander she must hide her Jacobite pride and pagan moon worship from her Lowland husband and mother-in-law. Her husband, Lord Donald Kerr, has secrets of his own. When bonny Prince Charlie rides into Edinburgh during the 1745 Jacobite Rising, these secrets come to light and lives are transformed as the family discovers what is truly important.
This book was clearly very thoroughly researched. The details are very historically accurate, and there are even appearances from true historic figures in the story. I love the author's careful attention to detail in the customs of both the Highlanders and the upper class Lowland society. The characters are vibrant and engaging, and the story moves along quickly.
This story has all the making of a great book - love, betrayal, war, unexpected loyalty, and a growing faith in the one true Lord. Its also based on the beginning of the Biblical account of Naomi and Ruth, with the story finishing in the sequel, Mine is the Night.
I must mention that I received a complimentary review copy from Waterbrook Multnomah for review purposes.
This is the first book by Liz Curtis Higgs I've read, and it will definitely not be the last. Here Burns My Candle is the story of a Lowlander family, Lady Marjory Kerr, her two sons and their wives who all live together in 18th century Scotland.
The main characters, who enjoy a comfortable life at the top of Edinburg society, are incredibly well developed. It's interesting to watch them grow and develop through adversity. I found myself thinking about them during the day, and wondering how they would handle the betrayal, secrets and war they were to face. The love, loss and fears they face are familiar to today's readers.
Here Burns My Candle is classified as Christian Historical Fiction. I feel this book would appeal to all readers, Christian or not, as it is a great historical read that happens to have similarities to the Biblical story of Ruth. The Christian message of the book is gentle, and not at all preachy. This is ultimately a story of redemption and forgiveness.
The characters' speech represents the local dialect, which I found to increase the authenticity of the text, rather than distract from it. An occasional word not easily recognized from the text can be found in the brief Scottish glossary at the end of the book. Reader's Guide questions make this a perfect read for a book club. I'm anxious to read the sequel, Mine Is the Night.
I loved this book. The depth of the characters and the vivid descriptions of Edinburgh drew me in and transported me into their lives. I could relate to their struggles and celebrate with them in their victories. I was reminded of what a wonderful God we serve as I watched Him present Himself to the Lady Kerr and draw her near to Him. The transformation in Lady Marjory as her pride is slowly stripped from her, and she is brought to a point where her heart longs to return to her "first love" is heartbreaking and joyous all at the same time. As I reluctantly turned the last page, not wanting the book to end, I knew I would soon be reading the sequel, Mine is the Night.
This is the first book by Liz Curtis Higgs that I have had the pleasure of reading. I was quite impressed with the obvious research that she had done on the historical and geographical aspects of the book and her insight into how God can work in our lives. I began reading the book knowing that it was based on the story of Ruth and Naomi, even though that gave me some insight as to where the book was going, it did not lessen the intrigue of how we were going to get there. Here Burns My Candle covers the first 18 verses of the Book of Ruth. The Bible does not really give us a lot of insight into what the daily lives of Naomi and her family were like before they returned to Bethlehem, and while I am sure it cannot truly be compared to life in Edinburgh in 1745; it did cause me to stop and ponder what Naomi and Ruth's lives were like during their time in Moab.
The author does use a lot of local dialect in her characters speech. This did not really hinder the fluidity of the book for me. Most of the time I found it easily interpreted within the context, and on the rare occasion when it was not I just flipped to the Scottish glossary on the last page of the book. Another plus to the book are the Reader's Guide questions which encouraged me to take a look at my own life and how I would have handled the situations this family faced. In my opinion, this book would be an excellent choice for those involved in a book club.
I look forward to continuing the journey with Marjory and Elisabeth and can't wait to meet Boaz in Mine is the Night. I would highly recommend this book to my friends.
I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group in return for my honest review. I was not required to give a positive review.
Lady Elisabeth 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 illumines the dark side of human nature, even as hope, the brightest of tapers, lights the way home.
This is the first book I have read by Liz Curtis Higgs, but it will not be my last. I was drawn into the story right away. The author's talent for description placed me in 1745 Edinburgh, Scotland; and the characters were real, with with strengths and weakness.
Using the the book of Ruth as her template, Liz Curtis Higgs weaves her story of of love, loss and redemption. A story that will endure this characters to your heart, as you turn each page.