A candle offers illumination, and in the same way “Here Burns My Candle” illuminates subjects that might leave you a little uneasy in the short term. In the long-run, this thought provoking historical novel will shed light on Scottish history as well as Biblical truth.
Lady Elisabeth Kerr, a commoner married into nobility, keeps a secret. Although she attends church services with the family, she privately follows the ‘auld’ ways. The clash of beliefs within her heart is every bit as wrenching as the battles fought by the Jacobites and the English.
Her mother-in-law, dowager Lady Marjory, is very class-conscious, wondering at her older son’s choice of wife even as she clings to her younger son’s more ‘suitable’ spouse. Marjory has secrets and regrets which shape her life.
The Kerr sons, Lord Donald and Andrew, carry their own burdens. Donald’s serial infidelities seem to echo today’s headlines. Andrew is a spoiled young man, focused on his own pleasure.
Everything changes for the Kerrs when Bonnie Prince Charlie arrives to reclaim the Scottish throne. As their world fills with dissension and warfare, the family members must make choices and take actions with long-reaching consequences.
Higgs is a master of recasting Bible stories in another setting to share their truth from a different perspective. Here she tackles the story of Ruth and Naomi, moving the action to Edinburgh in the 1740’s. As in her previous novels, Higgs retells the story without simply rewording it – she has cultivated a fresh blossom from the familiar branch.
One of my favorite aspects of this book is the rich flavor of Scotland which permeates and seasons the story without obscuring it. There is a map of 1745 Edinburgh to help with geography. Scottish phrases are placed in an explanatory context without interrupting the flow. Higgs’ thorough research gives us descriptions and situations which ring true.
The subjects of faith, forgiveness, political allegiance, social status and familial bonds are some of the themes explored in depth through the Kerr family. “Here Burns My Candle” is an addictive book, so be warned. This is not a book to read on coffee breaks unless you are willing to risk being late back to work. Settle in with a cup of tea in a comfortable chair and lose yourself in Higgs’ latest book.
“Here Burns My Candle” by Liz Curtis Higgs