A Shackled Inheritance has received 4 and 5 star reviews on Amazon and Goodreads. I was really pleased that all reviewers highlighted the historical context of the story. One reader confessed to looking up certain facts. Yes! That’s just what I do when something I read surprises me, or offers me a different perspective on historical events, whether the book is fact or fiction. When researching A Shackled Inheritance, I often had to drag myself away from documents written by real people 200 years ago, in order to return to my fictional characters.
In different ways, my characters are all imprisoned by the existence of slavery and the norms of society in the early 1800s. The gulf between owners and slaves was unbridgeable, and it is not surprising that free persons of colour did their best to deny their African heritage and claim the same privileges as the ruling planter class.
We like to think of slavery as something that is over and done with, a vile system that ended 200 years ago, a system we can afford to forget when we finish a book. Yet slavery still exists. Some organisations estimate the number of human beings held in conditions comparable to slavery to be 30 million worldwide. Modern serfdom comes to our notice now and then, when a brothel is raided in a quiet country town, when gangmasters are found to have forced vulnerable adults to work on building sites, or when an outwardly respectable couple are found to have confiscated their maid’s passport and made her sleep under the kitchen table. In 2016, there is even a UK helpline to report suspected slavery. Wilberforce must be turning in his grave.