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Liz Curtis Higgs' "Thorn in My Heart"

Discussion in 'Books & Publications Forum' started by Cindy, Apr 25, 2003.

  1. Cindy

    Cindy <img src=/Cindy.JPG>

    Oct 27, 2000
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    This is my review of Liz Curtis Higgs' new book. She is one of my favorite Christian authors.--Cindy


    A young man on the run from an angry brother,seeking a life and a spouse in the land of his mother's kindred. Two sisters: one beautiful, one plain, both in love with that man. The consequences of trickery faced as the presence of God is revealed. Sound like a familiar story?

    If you're thinking it sounds like the story of Jacob,Rachel and Leah,you're right. But talented author Liz Curtis Higgs, in her new book "Thorn in My Heart," has put an intriguing spin on the Biblical account by modifying it a bit,setting it in 18th-century Scotland,and infusing it with her own indelible,well-researched,beautifully-written and immensely readable touches.

    Jamie McKie is the second-born twin of Rowena and Alec McKie. But his mother Rowena firmly believes the prophecy,at birth, that he would rule over his older brother Evan. With Rowena's help,Jamie steals Evan's birthright,incurs his brother's murderous wrath,and flees to a far part of Scotland,aiming to reacquaint himself with his mother's brother Lachlan and the two very different daughters,Leana and Rose.

    At this point in the story,you may be thinking,"OK,this is nice, but I've read this story before...in Genesis. I know how it turns out. Why should I keep reading?"

    But read on you will. Liz Curtis Higgs makes sure of that. The Scottish setting,and Higgs' own fresh and sparkling writing style, put a brand -new spin on the timeless tale. Most of all, Jamie,Leana and Rose are not stock stand-ins for their Biblical inspirations...they're real, full-fledged characters that you grow to care about in their own right. Perhaps that,more than anything, kept me turning the pages eagerly and found me sorry to come to the inevitable end of the book.

    Fortunately for me, this book isn't the end of Higgs' story. Look for a sequel,"Fair is the Rose," in the spring of 2004.

    This is Higgs' first historical novel,and it's obvious that she invested a great deal of time and research in insuring that it is detailed in its accuracy. Yet the story feels very natural,as if it was written by someone intimately familiar with the time and place.

    It's also interesting to see how--since bigamy was acceptable in Bible days,but not in 18th-century Scotland--how Higgs manages this particular part of the original story.

    Most surprisingly for me--since I never rooted for Leah much in the Genesis account--was how quickly and surely Leana gained my sympathies and admiration. Though outshone in beauty and vivacity by her younger sister Rose, Leana's quiet strength and dignity lend her a rather elegant and pleasing grace. Her strong love for Jamie is unshakable,but never clinging or obnoxious. One can easily see how Jamie would think himself besotted over Rose, but still not be able to get the quiet Leana out of his mind.

    Higgs weaves her magic to flesh Leana out as a real woman and an admirable heroine. Jamie,despite his faults and failures,also wins us over with his basic goodness and charm. Rose? In this book,she comes across as adorable, but selfish and immature. I suppose we'll have to wait till the next book to get to know her better.

    And you can bet I'll be there, with my nose in the book,probably unable to put it down. Liz Curtis Higgs hasn't disappointed me yet!

    For more of my book reviews,check out the "reading" section of my website at: