Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Book Review: Here burns my Candle by Liz Curtis Higgs

I was given a free review copy of "Here Burns My Candle" by Liz Curtis Higgs. I was intrigued by the historical setting in Jacobite Scotland, as I, myself, have Scots ancestry. I also saw that this book is supposed to be a re-telling of the first part of the book of Ruth. The book's setting and theme had a lot of potential, I thought, and I looked forward to reading it. I do enjoy historical fiction and some historical romance.

I didn't feel that this book lived up to its promise. The relationships drawn between the three women and the two brothers seemed shallow compared to the relationships in the real book of Ruth. I realise that the author didn't mean this to be a verbatim re-telling and meant only to build on the basic idea. However, I thought that she blew a chance to give us more depth to her characters.

Also, a large sub-theme is the infidelity of the main character's husband. While this is a subject that people do deal with and could easily be analysed in Christian fiction, it seemed out of place in this particular story. It seemed as if it were thrown in for maudlin effect, rather than being a sub-plot that actually moved the story line or gave the story any depth.

When reading Christian fiction, I like to be inspired by the faith of the characters -- or at least that of the main character. Unfortunately, I didn't find much inspiration in theses pages.

On a more positive note, I thought it was clever that the main character began as a pagan, as Ruth surely would have been a pagan until influenced by her Jewish husband and parents-in-law -- her mother-in-law, Naomi, in particular. Whether someone would have actually been involved in pagan worship at that period of time in Scotland, I don't know. I imagine that the greater conflict would have been between Catholic loyalties and Protestant ones.

While Naomi in the book of Ruth had her faults, she was a godly influence on her daughters-in-law. The mother-in-law figure in the book doesn't seem as much of a godly influence on her family. Her faith seems more ritualistic and nominal. She is not close enough to her daughter-in-law to be aware of the struggles in her marriage or of her lack of knowledge of the Bible.

Others may like "Here Burns my Candle," but it wasn't my cup of tea.


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