This is my first encounter with Deborah Swift’s work, which is nice for me as a reader, no expectations one-way or the other. A Divided Inheritance was a breath of fresh air dealing with the everyday people and not just those touched by royalty. Swift begins her novel in 1609 England and introduces us to Elspet who lives and works with her father in his successful lace business. Elspet reveals in her time with her father and she relishes being included in his discussions of business and trade. Elspet dreams of running the lace business herself in time and her dreams and aspirations for the future seem incomplete without the business as part of her life. In Elspet Swift crafts a wonderfully human character. She is full of emotion, pride and stubbornness, but Elspet remains approachable because Elspet is simply a young woman denied a long held dream.
Never is this more apparent than when her father arrives home with Zachary. A cousin who very quickly begins to monopolize her father’s time and who it seems is the heir apparent for the lace business. Zachary however is not up to the task at present and he is sent on a “Grand Tour” of sorts to mature. Elspet hopes that life will soon return to normal, but her father suddenly passes away and leaves behind a will that shocks his only daughter to her soul taking away all of her dreams for herself and the business and resigning her to a life chasing after that which she believes is rightfully hers.
Deborah Swift gives her reader an intricately woven story in a rich and accurate historical setting. She fills her narrative with rich multi layered characters that are timeless in their appeal and the problems and issues they encounter instantly relatable to the modern reader. A Divided Inheritance has an air of timelessness that should appeal to all readers. Needless to say I would recommend A Divided Inheritance without hesitation.