Elspet Leviston’s greatest ambition is to continue the success of her father Nathaniel’s lace business. But her simple 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 relation 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 the inheritance that is rightfully hers. In the searing heat of Seville, 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 and finally unlocking the true meaning of family.
‘Another superbly researched and detailed novel by Swift. Filled with suspense, accuracy, real-life settings and characters, A Divided Inheritance will satisfy even the most discerning of history buffs.’ The Examiner
The past comes alive through impeccable research, layers of intriguing plot line, an understanding of the complexities of 17th century politics and the sheer power of descriptive prose. Add to all this Swift’s rich characterisation and subtle evocation of a period of religious upheaval and you have a classy, compelling adventure story and a true journey of discovery.’ Lancashire Evening Post
‘A Divided Inheritance achieves what all stellar historical fiction must: through the voices of imagined characters, important lessons from the past linger and haunt long after the book is finished.’ Orange Prize Nominee Ann Weisgarber
‘a true gem. It has a pacy storyline, the characters are complex, intriguing and often unexpected – and it is packed with fascinating historical fact’ Gabrielle Kimm, author of His Last Duchess
‘Elegantly written, A Divided Inheritance brings the uncertainty of the seventeenth century gloriously to life in an engaging tale of determination, tenacity and family loyalty.’ Flashlight Commentary Blog
‘a multifaceted tale about the consequences of religious intolerance, the expiation of guilt, the importance of family, and the appearance of unexpected love. And swordplay! The action sequences are as sharp and dazzling as Zachary’s hand-forged blade.’ Sarah Johnson, Reading the Past
‘I was thoroughly gripped until the end of this exhilarating book. And I would highly recommend this swashbuckling tale of lace, swordsmen, Spanish dancing, spice and romance if you enjoy a historical novel with a difference’ – Sixtyplussurfers magazine
Read an Interview with Deborah about the book, including it’s original title!
Discussion Questions for Reading Groups – A Divided Inheritance
1. Did you like Elspet and Zachary at the beginning of the book? Did your opinions of them change, and if so what were the moments that caused you to reassess them?
2. Were you surprised by the journey that Elspet took during the course of the novel? How much did her outer journey broaden her inner perception of the world?
8. Does Elspet inherit any of her father’s traits? How much is Zachary a product of his poor upbringing? Discuss whether you inherit your major character traits, or are conditioned into them.
3. The expulsion of the Moorish population of Spain is seen through the eyes of the Ortega family. Discuss the romance between Zachary and Luisa, and how it was left at the end of the novel. Did you find this ending satisfying and realistic?
4. Discuss the difference between how Catholics were treated in England and Spain as portrayed in the book. Are there religious divisions within your society today that are just as evident?
5. Zachary is obsessed by swordfighting, and later Elspet becomes interested in learning this skill. Discuss the education the men receive at the fencing school and what Elspet learns about herself by taking part in it.
6. The ‘blurb’ on the back of the book says Elspet’s journey enables her ‘to unlock the true meaning of family’. What do you think is the true meaning of family for you, and how does this relate to A Divided Inheritance?
7. Senor Alvarez has a hold over both Elspet and Zachary through his character. Discuss what his presence brings to the novel.
8. Persistence plays a big part in the unfolding of the plot. Discuss instances where persistence paid dividends for Elspet and Zachary.
9. What do you think happens after the novel is finished? Do Zachary and Elspet work together or does Elspet go on her Grand Tour? Do you think they meet any of the Moriscos again?
10. What makes a good historical novel? Are accuracy and historical facts important, or is the story paramount?