>When it comes to reading, fiction was my first love. After discovering the fiction of Scotsman George MacDonald as a teenager, I became fascinated with Scottish historical fiction. So, when I read the description of Liz Curtis Higgs’ new novel – a retelling of the Biblical story of Ruth set in 18th-century Scotland – I was naturally intrigued.
Here Burns My Candle is the story of Lady Elisabeth Kerr, highland peasant married to a lowland gentleman. Residing in Edinburgh with her husband, his mother, and his brother and wife, Elisabeth is the outcast of the family. The story is set in 1745-1746 as “Bonny Prince Charlie,” son of the exiled Stuart king, returns to Scotland to reclaim the throne for his father.
As Prince Charlie arrives in Edinburgh, the status quo of the Kerr family is greatly challenged by divided loyalties and dark secrets held by various family members. Elisabeth and her family find themselves evaluating the very core of everything they believe as they determine their place in the political upheaval of their day.
The writing style of Here Burns My Candle was delightful. The author not only incorporated the fascinating Scottish brogue in her tale, she also adopted an era-appropriate writing style, drawing the reader into mid-eighteenth century Scotland. Vivid descriptions of the daily life of Edinburgh society brought their world to life.
As I read the book I felt that the storyline was moving rather slowly. Being very familiar with the book of Ruth, I felt as if I were continually waiting for the core of the story to start. Upon completion, however, I discovered that I began reading with a faulty preconception. Here Burns My Candle is not based on the entire book of Ruth. In reality it covers only the first 18 verses of the book. Had I known this from the beginning, I probably would not have felt that the retelling was moving slowly. In fact, even in retrospect I find my musings of the novel much more enjoyable simply by better knowing the context.
The author included a Scottish glossary in the back of the book, an indispensable tool for anyone reading a Scottish-based novel for the first time. I would like to have also seen a historical appendix included in the book. Although I am familiar with the Stuarts and Prince Charles, I am quite rusty on the factual history. A brief one to two page rundown of Prince Charlie’s attempt to reclaim the throne for his father and a basic timeline would have been helpful accompaniments to the tale.
All in all, this is a novel I would definitely recommend. The vivid descriptions found in Higgs’ writing would make this a great starting point for someone who has never read a Scottish novel. It is also of such quality, however, that someone much more familiar with Scottish novels would not find the tale lacking. I, for one, will be anxiously awaiting the arrival of the sequel, Mine is the Night, due out next spring.
This book was provided for review by Waterbrook Multnomah. If you are a blogger interested in receiving books, please check out this Blogging for Books link to sign up. To purchase this book, click here. To view a video trailer for the book, click on the book image above.