A massive round of applause for #SecretBookClub. A Divided Inheritance by Deborah Swift is a fantastic novel. It is so much more than the description on the back of the book indicates. If I had simply read that as I browsed in a book shop, I think I would have put the book down. What a mistake that would have been!
A Divided Inheritance is the story of Elspet Leviston and Zachary Deane. Elspet is settled in her life; she loves her home, her dogs and helping her father with his lace business. Her world turns upside down when one day her father brings home her ‘cousin’ Zachary. Her father’s attentions turn to him and at Mr. Leviston’s death, Elspet’s home and the lace business she loves are left to her mysterious cousin. She will not let him take what she believes is rightfully hers and follows him to Spain. This is where their adventure truly begins. Elspet is thrust into a world very dissimilar to hers. She goes on a remarkable character journey. She must learn to adapt to survive. The English lady learns how to fence, protect herself and finds the power she holds within herself.
The book is quite lengthy at over 520 pages, but as it is split into four parts, it feels much more manageable. And, Deborah Swift is a magnificent storyteller. Her depiction of Jacobean London and then the religiously-divided city of Seville indicates that she has thoroughly researched the era. Her descriptions of the treatment of the Morisco people in Seville under the reign of Felipe II affected me deeply. I had known nothing of the expulsion of the Morisco people from Spain. Swift includes a historical background at the end of the novel to help the reader gain an even greater understanding of the context. It is well known that the Jews were persecuted in the Spanish Inquisition but the Muslim community were persecuted, tried and tortured. This should not fall to the sidelines of history.
A Divided Inheritance is a fantastic book and an amazingly well-written story. I still do not feel that within this review I have done the book the complete justice it deserves! So, I ask you, historians or avid readers of historical fiction, please pick this book up and let it take you on the most wonderful journey. You will not regret it.
If you would like to know more about Deborah Swift and her writing career, read our interview with the lovely author here!