Thorn In My Heart by Liz Curtis Higgs, 2003
Although I finished reading Thorn In My Heart on Saturday night, I decided not to review it right away. Sundays are always busy days anyway, and I thought I could use the time to absorb the book. Set in Scotland in the eighteenth century (1780s to be precise), Thorn In My Heart is the novelization of the Genesis story of Jacob, Rachel, and Leah. (Of course these characters aren't called Jacob, Rachel, and Leah.) Rowena plays the role of Rebekah. Alec plays the role of Isaac. Evan plays the role of Esau. Jamie plays the role of Jacob. Lachlan plays the role of Laban. Leana plays the role of Leah. And Rose plays the role of Rachel.
The prologue tells the story of a pregnant Rowena whose midwife tells her that the older will serve the younger. And the opening chapters relate the story of how Jamie and Rowena deceive Alec and obtain the blessing for the younger son instead of the firstborn. But the story really begins to get exciting when Jamie leaves home to visit his Uncle Lachlan and meet his young cousins, Leana and Rose.
Leana and Rose are sisters that love each other dearly, but are very different from one another. The coming of cousin Jamie will change both of their lives forever. For better or worse.
Full of deception, trickery, and betrayal, Thorn of My Heart is an exciting read. Though it was 475 pages, I finished it in two days.
Most of me really loved this novel. The only odd thing about this story is that it is an Old Testament story set in somewhat-modern times. These OT characters though are quoting scriptures, owning Bibles, and attending weekly church (or should I say kirk!!!) services. Which isn't particularly a bad thing, I suppose, it just makes for an interesting read. One of the things one always has to keep in mind though when reading the Old Testament, and Genesis in particular, was that for the most part God's words, God's laws were unknown to man. Sure, God revealed himself to Abraham and gave him some laws and promises. And those I'm sure were passed from father to son and so on. But there would have been no written testament or testimony. No Bible by the bedside to give one hope, assurance, or guidance. No "thou shalt nots" about coveting or adultery. No commandments about lying. The fact that the Mosaic law wasn't given yet doesn't excuse Jacob's and Laban's and Rebekah's sins. But it makes it more understandable. But these characters have the Bible. They have both testaments. They have a lifetime of kirk attendance hearing sermons about do this but don't do that. They know right from wrong. There is a moral code, a moral law, that has been in effect for thousands of thousands of years. So I had a hard time really understanding how Jamie and Lachlan and Rowena and Leana and Rose could behave in such a way at times. I mean when it all comes down to it, humans are sinful. Always have been, always will be. Some things don't change. But the excuses have gone away. While you could somewhat look the other way with Jacob taking two wives....you have a harder time justifying a man essentially doing that in the 1780s. In Genesis times, a man taking two wives was no big deal. Having two sisters as wives wasn't even a big deal in those days. But to see it translated into modern times....it just seems sleazier.
What I loved, loved, loved about this novel was the characterization. I think Higgs did a great job capturing the spirit of these bible characters. When I was reading it, I was thinking...Yes, I always imagined her acting just like that....and really no one could have done a better job making Lachlan/Laban come to life. Everything about the characters was brilliant.
So I do highly recommend this novel and this series!!!