If you want to see historical fiction done right, read Liz Curtis Higgs. She won me over completely with her compelling Scottish series based on the biblical story of Jacob, Leah, and Rachel (Thorn in My Heart, Fair Is the Rose, Whence Came a Prince, and Grace in Thine Eyes). I was thrilled to see her new series based on the biblical story of Ruth and Naomi. Here Burns My Candle came out this fall, and the sequel, Mine Is the Night, released this month. Knowing my own impatience, I waited until the sequel was available before starting the first novel.
Here Burns My Candle does not disappoint. The story transports you to Edinburgh in 1745, on the verge of the Jacobite rebellion. Widow Lady Marjory Kerr lives with her two sons and their wives. With her highland background and former life as a gifted seamstress, Lady Elisabeth Kerr isn't accepted by her patrician mother-in-law and even shallower sister-in-law, Janet. When "Bonnie Prince Charlie" occupies Edinburgh during the Jacobite Rebellion, allegiances shift, and danger threatens the Kerrs' place in high society. As a string of tragedies hits the family, secrets are revealed and true character shines forth.
Liz Curtis Higgs does it all well. Marjory and Elisabeth are beautifully drawn characters, full of strengths and weaknesses that make them come to life. The setting is scrumptious. I have been blessed to visit Edinburgh's charming streets in person, and it was a joy to visit them in print. Higgs' extensive research shows in every detail, but never detracts from the interpersonal drama. The dialect is delightful, and always understandable in context - if not, there's a glossary in the back of the book. The only weakness in the story is due to the fact that it's based on a biblical story. Therefore, if you know the book of Ruth, you know the essence of what will happen to the main characters. However, I was still driven along, wanting to know exactly how it would unfold and how the characters would grow and change. If you want to be transported to a different era with fascinating characters, you'll love Here Burns My Candle. I'm eagerly looking forward to reading Mine Is the Night.
Labels: book review, Here Burns My Candle, Liz Curtis Higgs