Thorn in My Heart – Review

img_8439I have been recommended Thorn in My Heart, the first book in the Lowlands of Scotland series, several times in the past couple of years. When I seem to forget about it, it comes up in conversation again. Finally, I decided to grab it from my library during Spring Break and start on this retelling of Jacob, Rachel, and Leah’s story from the Old Testament. This Biblical story has truly been the thorn in my own heart for years. I’ve struggled with this story more than any other because I have a hard time grasping God’s Will here. Obviously, He used Jacob’s numerous sons from different wives and servants to create the twelve tribes of Israel and eventually bring Jesus to us. Unfortunately, knowing all of the blessings to come offer me little comfort about Jacob, Rachel, and Leah. When I think of this story, I can’t help but feel a smidge of resentment toward God for allowing such heartache in the lives of these women. I can’t imagine sharing my husband. I can’t imagine being married to someone who doesn’t love me as he should or having him share my very own sister’s bed. There is so much to the story that doesn’t sit right with me. Maybe I’m too modern of a woman, but I can’t help my feelings, try as I might.

Knowing how I feel and struggle with this story, I assumed I would have similar feelings toward this retelling. However, I hoped it might offer me a change of heart or in the least, a better sense of peace. Unfortunately, I didn’t come out on the other side with new revelations about this particular story, but I sure felt the anguish.

This retelling allows readers to understand Leah and Jacob’s perspectives from a new angle, though they are called Jamie and Leana in Thorn in My Heart. The same events readers might expect happen: Jamie deceives his father, stealing his twin brother’s birthright. His mother encourages him to flee to her brother’s home to escape her other son, Evan’s wrath while allowing Jamie to look for a bride in his uncle’s home. Once there, Jamie finds himself being deceived by his cunning uncle into working for his daughter’s hand in marriage, though not the daughter Jamie had chosen for himself.

It all sounds almost exactly as it happens in the Bible story, so one might ask themselves why they would pick up a story they already know or can experience in fewer pages in the actual Bible. This is where Leah or Leana’s perspective comes in. Readers are truly able to experience the feelings behind the deception of her marriage to Jamie. Each character is at fault in some way, causing hurt to themselves or others at nearly every turn. I felt truly conflicted about this story, as I was able to put myself in the shoes of each of the main characters, with the exception of the ruthless Lachlan (father of Leana and Rose). As the story progressed, I was able to feel drawn to Leana’s story, per the author’s persistence, and understand her heartbreak over being the least loved of the two sisters, though the first wife of Jamie. As someone who has asked God to take away my love for another before, I was able to sympathize with her agony in a new way. Usually, when reading the Bible story, I think of Rachel’s perspective and her disappointment, not the other way around.

This story was unique in many ways with the Scottish setting, time period, and certain differing events from the Biblical story. It had a bit of an Outlander feel to it, based on the time period, setting, language, and names of characters. The plot kept me guessing throughout because I wasn’t sure if the author would stay true to Biblical events or take creative liberties. The first half of the book was incredibly slow for me, and I wasn’t positive I wanted to continue reading. After taking a short break with another read, I was able to come back to this one with renewed interest. Luckily, the second half of the story was much more entertaining and emotional, but this is likely not a series I will continue reading. I don’t know if I can emotionally put myself in Leana’s shoes any longer with her constant disappointments and lack of love from her husband. I think I will have to consider this a standalone and move on for my own sanity and personal Faith. This is simply one of those Old Testament stories I can’t quite wrap my head around, though I technically understand the hows and whys behind the events that transpired, my emotions tend to get in the way.

I’d love to hear your thoughts! Does the story of Jacob, Leah, and Rachel irk you in the same ways? Have you read this book?

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