Grace in Thine Eyes
In her Scottish trilogy, beginning with Thorn in My Heart, Higgs reset the biblical story of Jacob (Jamie McKie) in the late 18th century. One might expect the saga to continue with his most well-known child, Joseph, but the author has chosen instead the haunting tale of Dinah, as told in Genesis 34. It is 1808, in the south-west of Scotland. Jamie’s daughter, Davina, has been voiceless since a childhood accident caused by the reckless behavior of her twin brothers. Jamie has never been able to forgive his sons, which has caused them to burn with resentment. When Davina is raped while spending a summer visiting cousins, the bitterness that already divides the family leads to a terrible vengeance that strips far more from Davina than either her virginity or her voice.
The author’s strength lies in her descriptive prose, which draws the beauty of the Scottish landscape and illuminates the details of period life. Her decision to make Davina mute not only adds pathos but also universalizes the silent suffering of women over the centuries. My great disappointment was that, despite the title, the characters neither repent nor change: one could see them reenacting the same tragedy the following summer. And perhaps, in the original, they did – which would be Joseph’s story.