Deborah Swift’s A Divided Inheritance is another wonderful period piece straight out of James I’s 1600 London. Swift does a marvelous job of setting the stage for our viewing pleasure. She sweeps details across us with visual word choices and precise vocabulary. Her scenes are lovely to read and full of depth, life, and dimension.
Swift creates a feisty and independent female protagonist for readers right from the very start in Elspeth! We know her sorrows, her hopes, her motivations, and her determination straight away from the very first few chapters. And Swift builds on that further into the book as Elspeth’s strong side dominates, especially as she sets off in search of what is rightfully hers, her father’s lace business, which was passed on to her and her quick on the scene cousin, Zachary, but she knows her role as a woman partner is secondary, and her family home, gone to this man who is seemingly a stranger.
The drama that ensues as Zachary seems to be set in his own agenda of sword fighting and making merry, while she is serious about her family legacy is typical of strong female and selfish man. Zachary is sent away by her father to Spain, but then said father dies and he is left the aforementioned business in part with Elspeth, so Elspeth takes on a mission to find him.
It turns into no normal mission however, as they are thrust into Catholic Spain, which is in the stages of the Inquisition and the ousting of people of other religions, such as Muslims. Such a contrast as James I of England is Protestant and denouncing the Catholics, sending the priests into hiding and secretive actions. Zachary’s story, which shows he is actually not selfish, but loving and kind, is the key to this book in my opinion. His sacrifices and motivation to save his love, Luisa, and her family as the Moriscos (Moors) are exiled under violence from Seville, their home for many centuries.
These people had become distinctly Spanish, as Spanish as anyone who was born and raised in Spain. It was their home and to be forced away never to return, many killed or sent into slavery in Africa, was a major part of history that really isn’t talked about enough. Especially with the climate of today’s world against the Muslims, because racism is on the rise again. To be removed from your homes, your life, and to sparse an entire city due to their religious or cultural background is abhorrent. I fear we should take precautions today based on these history lessons. Swift takes a seemingly action, adventure, and family redemption story and plants important and authentic historical lessons. I thank you, Deborah, for that!!! For showing how vile it is to treat people this way, to not be peaceful enough to live in harmony with those who different, to bringing this to mainstream attention, I applaud you! The sad thing is that many were not even Muslims, but had converted to Christianity (Conversos), but that was still not tolerated for fear of treason. That’s right, it always is because of people’s fear that these acts happen. Have courage to live with each other in understanding and unity! Why should 400,000 (the estimated number displaced Muslims or Christians converted from Islam) be cast out of the homes they worked so hard for because of someone else’s fears??
My point in all that, in regards to the book, is that I thank Deborah for bringing a sometimes touchy subject to the forefront in her book and telling their story. Her use of Zachary’s character to fall in love with one name Luisa, and courageously then helping her family, or even his dialogue with Elspeth about it, was very emotional. I wish I could say more without giving the plot away, but there are so many twists and turns in the this novel she will keep you surprised.
Swift brought me a novel that was full of women of fortitude, determination, and courage, dramatic scenes and excellent scenery, family redemption and survival, a show of unity, and great strength of plot and characters. Her historical research is authentic and absorbent. Her period details are robust and aplenty in all the right places, and her characters are vibrant and dimensional. It’s a must read for any historical history lover!
Watch for my interview with Deborah on Monday, Nov. 25!
A DIVIDED INHERITANCE, Synopsis~
A family divided by fortune. A country divided by faith.
Elspet Leviston’s greatest ambition is to continue the success of her father Nathaniel’s lace business. But her dreams are thrown into turmoil with the arrival of her mysterious cousin Zachary Deane – who has his own designs on Leviston’s Lace.
Zachary is a dedicated swordsman with a secret past that seems to invite trouble. So Nathaniel sends him on a Grand Tour, away from the distractions of Jacobean London. Elspet believes herself to be free of her hot-headed relative but when Nathaniel dies her fortunes change dramatically. She is forced to leave her beloved home and go in search of Zachary – determined to claim back from him the inheritance that is rightfully hers.
Under the searing Spanish sun, Elspet and Zachary become locked in a battle of wills. But these are dangerous times and they are soon embroiled in the roar and sweep of something far more threatening, sending them both on an unexpected journey of discovery which finally unlocks the true meaning of family . . .
A Divided Inheritance is a breathtaking adventure set in London just after the Gunpowder Plot and in the bustling courtyards of Golden Age Seville.
Author Deborah Swift, Biography~
Deborah Swift used to work in the theatre and at the BBC as a set and costume designer, before studying for an MA in Creative Writing in 2007. She lives in a beautiful area of Lancashire near the Lake District National Park. She is the author of The Lady’s Slipper and is a member of the Historical Writers Association, the Historical Novel Society, and the Romantic Novelists Association.
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