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From the Trade Paperback edition.
1. Rowena McKie appears through only the first seven chapters of the book, but her influence is felt throughout the story. In what ways does she shape Jamie’s past, present, and future? What, if anything, makes her a sympathetic character? How is she like her brother, Lachlan, and how is she different?
2. Rowena clearly considers her deceptive plan to be necessary. How does she justify her actions? What does her behavior reveal about her relationship with her husband, Alec? And what of her other son, Evan? How has she convinced herself that he deserves such ill treatment?
3. To what extent is a man like Jamie McKie—heroic one minute, cowardly the next—a believable character? When does Jamie behave heroically, and when do his weaknesses surface? How would you describe his overall character? What changes take place in Jamie’s character from the first chapter to the last, and who or what brought about those changes?
4. Rowena favors Jamie; Alec favors Evan. Can you recall specific examples of parental favoritism evident in Lachlan’s treatment of Leana and Rose? And how do the sisters respond to their father in distinctive ways?
5. Leana McBride has many positive qualities, but she is by no means perfect. What are her strengths, and what are her weaknesses? To what extent is she a heroine? a victim? a fallen woman? Regarding her relationship with Jamie, is she naive? foolish? obsessed? What outcome were you hoping for in Leana’s life?
6. Rose and Leana are vastly different—as opposite as Evan and Jamie—yet the sisters have a much healthier relationship. What words would you use to describe young Rose, and how did you feel about her as you got to know her? Did your opinion of her alter as the story unfolded? Which scene struck you as most true to life for two sisters living under the same roof?
7. Despite Lachlan McBride insisting, “There are to be no saicrets in this household,” Auchengray overflows with secrets. What secrets does Leana keep? What are Jamie’s secrets? And Rose’s? As for Lachlan, secrets, lies, and deception are his currency, used to manipulate and coerce. How might you explain Lachlan’s need to control the lives of those around him?
8. The epigraphs that introduce each chapter were carefully chosen. My personal favorite is the Scottish proverb, “A winter’s night, a woman’s mind, and a laird’s purpose aften change.” For you, which quote best captures the essence of the novel, and why?
9. On her wedding night, Leana convinces herself she must climb into Jamie’s bed. Were you surprised by her decision? appalled? Which, if any, of the reasons she offers in chapter 48 are valid? Did you find yourself scolding her…or rooting for her? What motivation, above all others, sent Leana tiptoeing into Jamie’s room to “seek his blessing”?
10. When he was a lad of seventeen, Robert Burns wrote:
Such was my life’s deceitful morning,
Such the pleasures I enjoy’d!
But lang or noon loud tempests, storming,
A’ my flowery bliss destroy’d.
Jamie McKie might have penned those very sentiments himself on the first day of 1789. Why is Leana the target of his anger? How would you describe Lachlan’s conduct toward Jamie that morning? Who is most to blame for this tragic turn of events—Lachlan, Jamie, or Leana? Even though she is not on the scene until later, how might Rose have contributed to this debacle?
11. Neda and Duncan Hastings both serve as a moral compass for the story. Especially in chapters 59 and 67, how do they provide a sense of true north for Leana and Jamie? In what other scenes do Neda’s willing ear and Duncan’s ready wisdom offer much needed direction and stability?
12. At what point in the story did the significance of the title, Thorn in My Heart, come alive for you? Leana eventually defines that thorn as her love for Jamie—“the love that would not stop”—but each character could claim to have a “thorn” in his or her heart as well. What might Rose’s thorn be? And Jamie’s? What thorns press upon Lachlan? Rowena?
13. Three hundred years ago Matthew Henry wrote, “Whom God loves he never leaves.” That same truth, inspired by Genesis 28:15, echoes throughout the novel: I will never leave you. Even when Jamie’s behavior is less than honorable, those words from his heavenly dream keep coming back to him. How does Jamie react each time he remembers that assurance? How might those words encourage you in your own spiritual journey?
14. Leana came to a point of desperation before she came to a place of peace. What is the “dark moment,” the lowest point of Leana’s trials? When does she begin to climb out of that darkness and move toward the light of hope? How does Rose aid her sister in that painful process of maturing? And how does Rose hinder Leana’s efforts?
15. In desperation, Jamie prays, “Please, God, help me love her in return.” What evidence do you see of such love for Leana in the final chapter of the novel? What does he say to her that suggests his heart is changing? What is his relationship with Rose at story’s end? Which issues and conflicts are resolved by the last page, and which are merely on hold? What might the future hold for this thorny triangle?
16. The one constant that permeates the story from beginning to end is bonny Scotland itself. Which passage in particular brought the Scottish Lowlands of the eighteenth century to life for you? In what ways are time and place critical to the telling of this story? In what ways does Thorn in My Heart transcend time and place?
Posted September 27, 2011
This is the first book of threebbook series. It is loosely based of the story of Jacob from the Bible set in the late 1800 in Scotland. It is about two sisters who are in love with the same man, Jamie, who got tricked into marrying the sister that he doesn't love, Leana. Jamie makes a pact with the father that he had work for seven months in ordernto be able to divorce Leana to marry Rose. I can almost feel the pain, the tears, the stress, and undying love that isn't return by the man that you love. All she has is the faith in her God to get her through. I highly recommend this series.
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Posted June 29, 2011
Thorn in My Heart by Liz Curtis Higgs is a 1700s Scottish retelling of the Biblical story of Jacob, Leah, & Rachel. It is also the first of four books in the Lowlands of Scotland Series.
From the very beginning the book is filled with plot twists and deceptions. I won't give them away here but if you are familiar with the Biblical account then you will probably be able to figure most of them out. However, I was pleasantly surprised with how Higgs handled them in their historical contest. For example, in the Bible Jacob takes two wives. However, during the 1700s in Scotland polygamy would have been frowned up and would not have been a plausible solution to the little Scottish love triangle.
Thorn in My Heart is alternately written from the viewpoints of Jamie McKie and Leana McBride. Both characters are strong and carry the story well. It is also to see the story from Leana's (Biblical Leah) point of view. It makes you really stop and think what this all must have been like for her. What was she feeling? Was she a willing participant in the deception or was she a mere victim of circumstances?
Liz Curtis Higg's descriptive writing style brings you right into the story from the very first pages. Whether you are raptly reading of Jamie and Evan's births or nearing the climactic ending you will feel like you are really there. Her writing also helps you relate to the characters in a very real way. You genuinely feel bad for those who are overlooked and mistreated because you care about what happens to them. They are very real. And if you're not careful you'll feel so in touch with Scotland that you will be tempted to start saying 'Nae' or call people 'bonnie'.
When I first opened the book I wasn't sure what to think. I don't particularly care for the story of Jacob getting wives and the quarrel between the sisters. I was even less sure about the story when I discovered that the brunt of the story would be written from Leah's point of view. Now I am glad that I kept reading because it was definitely worth every minute! So whether you are curious about seeing this story from another side or you just love Scottish history, I recommend that you read Thorn in My Heart. You will absolutely love this book!
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Posted April 28, 2011
Important note: I wrote this review before I'd read the second book. The second book, Fair is the Rose, was terrible and unrealistic and depressing. I'm actually a HUGE fan of tragedies and depressing books, but this one was just stupidly depressing. Things happened that shouldn't have happened. So while I love this book, I strongly disliked the second book.
To anyone who has read the story of Jacob and Rachel in the Bible, this is a familiar story. To me, it was like looking at the back of my hand - at least, for the first seventy-five pages or so. Up until that point the story is almost exactly like the Bible story, only, of course, in a different setting and era. But as soon as Jamie arrives at Auchengray, I was at a loss to what would happen. The Bible story is written without the many details of your average love story; it gives only the details needed, those that are important. However, to create a whole novel based on this story, Liz Curtis Higgs had to add things. Some may have been true, and some may not have been. However, Higgs fills her story with her own bright and lovely characters, a few of her own twists and turns, and and ending that you'll never forget, and one that will make you go wild to get the second one in your hands.
For one thing, this story very plainly shows deep and thoroughly felt emotions. Jamie, Leana, and Rose are all wronged in the story, creating strife, anger, love, jealousy, and ravaging terror. As you read it your emotions will change with the emotions of the character you are reading about at the moment; and then, when time comes to change perspective, you will feel exactly what that character is feeling. Your view of the story will change multiple times; you will suddenly think completely differently about things that you once believed to be true; your eyes will be opened and all you will be able to do is keep reading.
Liz Curtis Higgs is very learned in Irish culture and is also very skilled with her pen. Lord knows how she was able to create such an intricate story of deceit and love and forgiveness while still keeping as close to the Bible story as possible, and giving the character more life than many authors ever dream of. As I stand thoroughly impressed, I highly recommend this hearty story of a braw lad and two of the bonniest lasses in Ireland.
(This book is an older romance novel; recommended for adults. Several scenes involve a couple's marriage bed and certain difficulties with this that have arisen from another character's deceitfulness. While these scenes are not, in a sense, explicit, they are at the very least very sensual.)
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Posted January 16, 2011
i really love this book and i can't think of any other that i like more. The story is amazing. leana's story is heartbreaking and it kept me hooked from the very first page. I feel like I need to say that the sex scene in my opinion was tastefully done and I would like to add that there is nothing wrong with a little sex ladies. Sex is not a dirty thing. For those of us who are Christians i'd like to say loosen up a little. This is not one of those dirty romance novels. And I would like to remind everyone that there is sex in the actual biblical account between Leah and Jacob. All in all I love this book. I can't wait to see what Liz comes up with next.
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Posted July 2, 2008
This is an amazing book. The author has an incredible way to truly draw you into the lives of the characters. As each twist in the story takes place, your heart just hurts for the character, whether you think that they were right or wrong. Even if their actions caused the consequences, you really feel for Leana, Rose, and Jamie. I was completely upset the first time I read it because I did not know that it was a continuation and I had to wait until the next book came out. The following two were amazing as well. I re-read the biblical account of Jacob, Leah, and Rachel in Genesis once I finished the series and there is quite a bit of meaning that I had originally overlooked. Well-done!
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Posted January 14, 2014
Posted October 11, 2013
Posted March 20, 2013
A historical retelling of the story of Jacob, Rachel, and Leah from the Bible set in the Scotland lowlands that is one of my favorite series. The author makes an old story new by making you take a second look at at familiar characters but maybe not as you have before. One thing that may be a drawback to others (I love it) is the author uses old Scottish words in the story. There is a dictionary at the back of the book and many of the words you can figure out from context. To me to fun learning new words.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted February 15, 2013
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Posted July 20, 2012
This is the kind of book I long for. Even though it is completely out of my experiential range, I felt like I had been transported to a different time and place. I could hardly get anything else done because I wanted to get back and continue reading. I can't wait to continue the series!Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted July 2, 2012
One key to great writing is when I put the brakes on my reading toward the end of the book. I slow down to delay leaving the story as long as possible. This happened with "Thorn in My Heart" by Liz Curtis Higgs. The story begins with a strong resemblanc to Jacob & Esau of the Bible. I wondered how Ms. Higgs would handle the main character having two wives in 18th century Scottland. But she's a clever and gifted writer who brought a new twist to this ancient story of sisterly rivalry. Jamie loves Rose. Leanna loves Jamie. And Uncle Lachlan, the shrewd father of an unmarriable daughter, loves a nephew who will work for free to gain a bride...but which daughter will Jamie get?
Liz Curtis Higgs uses period-correct language and Scottish phrases so well I understood the meanings, even though I'm not fluent in the language...modern or ancient.
I'm hooked now. I'll have to get the next two books... Great Job, Liz!!!
Posted December 25, 2011
I thoroughly enjoyed this entire series. It is the best ive read in a long time. I love how she compared it to the Bible story about isaac and rebekah and their descendants.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted August 11, 2011
I loved this book by one of my favourite authors, and when it didn't come back after being lent out, I bought myself the Nook version. I'm sorry I spent the money on that instead of buying another hard copy because the editing on the Nook version was poorly done. I haven't gotten past the first chapter because the errors are distracting. So, while I recommend anything by Liz Curtis Higgs without reservation, I cannot recommend the Nook version of this book.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted February 17, 2011
I enjoyed the book - I knew going into it that it 'favored' the biblical tale of Rachel/Leah and Jacob/Essau but it is not so much that you felt you had read it before. I loved The Red Tent, also similarly biblical in its story but also held its own. The characters in Thorn are well developed and you definitely develop an emotional attachment to them, you feelings toward them changing over time too. It is a quick read and I would recommend it to those who like a good story.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
After reading the reviews on this site, I feel it is important to clarify that this series is 'not' the Biblical story of Esau and Jacob and Leah and Rachel. If you want to read the Biblical story of Jacob, please read the Book of Genesis because it is the only accurate account. If you want to read a fictional novel about a young Scottish lad whose life is similar to Jacob's then read this series beginning with Thorn in my Heart, you will not be disappointed. The story of Jamie McKie is the time old tale of a young man who deceives his brother and is forced to leave his home. Jamie meets two young women who, even though they love and care about each other, both fall in love with him. He loves both women in return, but since the story is set in 1780 Scotland, he can only marry one. He favors one (because of her youth and beauty) but is deceived into marrying the other. While the basis of the story comes from the Book of Genesis, the series does follow it's own story line. The history of 1780 Scotland and the rich characters bring the story to life. It is well written, but because you love (and at times dislike) all the characters, it can be very emotional. If you enjoy this series, you will also enjoy There Burns my Candle, the first book of Ms. Higgs new series, which is also set in 1780 Scotland and is 'based' on the story of Ruth and Naomi from the Book of Genesis. If you like historical romance and keep in mind that this is a fictional novel (not the actual story of Jacob), you will enjoy this series as well as Ms. Higgs new one.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted February 4, 2010
If the purpose of the book was the show how cleverly the author can rewrite a Biblical story, then the purpose was served.   If the purpose was to inspire, encourage and edify, it was a dismal failure.   I wondered if the purpose was to see how close the author could come to writing bedroom scenes and still get published under the Christian genre!  It is a rewrite of the account of Laban tricking Jacob into marrying Leah when it is Rachel he loves. Everyone is self serving, especially the heroine, the rewrite of Leah, who uses her body and sex to "win" her husband's love.  Though at the end a servant "convinces" Jacob into saying he loves Leah, I wasn't convinced.  My one word response at the end was "Yuck.  That was a terrible book."  I felt dirty - certainly not the way  do when reading and being inspired about characters with moral integrity and faith. In no way did I think the ending "triumphant".This is the 2nd book by this author I have read and I have liked neither. This was my last.
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Posted November 7, 2009
this is the first book in liz's series that i have previously reviewd. this book is the beggining of the great books she will write for this series. reading this one can and i believe will open your heart to the emotional trials the people must have gone through. also if you end up loving this and even if you dont you should check out julie lessman's series... especially her most recent book a passion denied!Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
This book was great! I love how the author detailed the history of Jacob, Leah, and Rachel from the Bible....filling in the blanks. Brilliant!! Some people misunderstand that concept. My heart goes out to Leana because from day one she fell in love with Jamie, and ever since then her mind has been played with...by Rose, her father, and even sometimes Jamie. I just felt so bad for her. The ending made me tear up a bit. Lol. Very good book. I'm in the middle of reading "Fair is the Rose" which is excellent also.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.