Meet A Forlorn Hope’s David Powell

Please note this post contains SPOILERS for books one to three. If you haven’t read them yet, click on the banner below to catch up!

David Powell was born in Co Meath, Ireland the only child of the late Cecil Powell, a farmer and his wife. David is gay but keeps his sexuality a secret until he moves to Dublin aged eighteen to study medicine at Trinity College. While in his final year, David meets Alfie Stevens, Isobel Fitzgerald’s brother, and they fall in love. When Will and Isobel accidentally find them together, Alfie makes them promise never to tell anyone.

When Will’s best friend Dr Fred Simpson reveals he has syphilis and has passed it to his wife Margaret and their unborn child, Will insists Fred retires from practising medicine and urgently needs to replace him at the Merrion Street Upper medical practice. Isobel suggests David even though he is less than a year qualified but has been doing locum work to gain experience. Will takes him on and David proves to be an excellent doctor and even assists in the births of Will and Isobel’s twins.

When Alfie and David are attacked outside a club for gay men and Will’s father hears a delirious Alfie calling out for David, John puts two and two together and is furious. Isobel pleads with John to turn a blind eye and he reluctantly agrees. But John Fitzgerald should not have been trusted.

Will and Isobel discover John has persuaded David to enter into a marriage of convenience with Fred Simpson’s childless widow, Margaret. It is little wonder David gave in to greed. In marrying Margaret, David gains a large house with a prestigious address on Ely Place Upper in which he can establish his own medical practice but the marriage need never be consummated.

The fragile marriage has far reaching consequences. John, David and Margaret’s deception devastates Alfie – almost costing him his life – and it enrages Will and Isobel who retaliate by denying John access to his three grandchildren. This angers Will’s mother Sarah who believes the children should not be involved. But can their differences be buried or are some rifts too deep to heal?  

Dublin, Ireland, September 1883. The rift between the Fitzgeralds deepens when Will’s father threatens legal action to gain visiting rights to his three grandchildren. But Will, Isobel and John are brought unexpectedly together by Will’s mother when Sarah’s increasingly erratic behaviour spirals beyond their control.

Isobel is reunited with a ghost from her past unearthing memories she would rather have kept buried while the fragile marriage of convenience orchestrated by John becomes more and more brittle before it snaps with horrifying consequences.

Read an excerpt from Chapter Six…

Even during the dark days of Nicholas’ burial and Fred’s death and funeral, he had never seen {Margaret} in such a state. Her brown eyes were wide and staring, her blonde hair was escaping its pins, and her black and white striped gown was splattered with manure from the streets. “Sit on the bed, Margaret,” he instructed and he sat on the edge of the double bed, trying desperately to keep his voice calm. “Sit beside me.” He patted the bedcovers and nodded to the maid and housekeeper who reluctantly let her go.

After a moment or two’s uncertainty, Margaret sat beside him and he heard Bob whisper to the servants to please leave the room with him and they would attend to the maid in the hall.

The door closed after them and Will forced himself to give Margaret a kind smile.

“We’ve known each other for a few years now, haven’t we?” he asked and she nodded.

“Yes. And?”

“And I would like to think you could tell me what has brought you to this. I’m going to be blunt with you, Margaret because it is time for honesty. Even when Nicholas and Fred died and you went through an unimaginably terrible time, you still didn’t attack a caller with a knife. Why now?” he inquired softly.

“It’s David,” she replied with a sniff. “He doesn’t love me.”

“Margaret, you knew David would not love you when you married him.”

“But I hoped,” she added and screwed up her face as she fought to find the correct words. “I hoped he might fall in love with me eventually. He threw Alfie Stevens over for me, after all, but he does not even pretend to love me. In fact, he recently made it plain that I disgust him.”

“Do you love him?” Will asked and was relieved when she shook her head.

“For a while, I managed to convince myself that I did. But I do not. It was nothing more than a futile effort to try and overcome the bitter regret I feel at having agreed to marry him. I had hoped David and I would have grown accustomed to each other over time – become companions and more – but I know now it was a forlorn hope because there is nothing between us except hate and mistrust. David simply wanted this house and social status and I have realised just how much I miss Fred and our baby and how I shall be alone and childless in this marriage for as long as I live. Please, Will. Tell me you miss Fred, too?”

Tears stung his eyes and he nodded. “I miss Fred every day – and I will continue to miss him every day for the rest of my life.”

Margaret gave him a wobbly smile, rested her temple on his shoulder and he put an arm around her, wondering when she had last been afforded some kindness.

“Margaret, please leave this house for your own wellbeing.”

“And go where?” she asked miserably. “Neither Mother nor Elizabeth approved of this marriage and—”

“What on earth are you doing? Get away from my wife.”

Will and Margaret jerked apart and he got off the bed. David, with Will’s father behind him, was standing at the bedroom door.

“We’re-we’re not doing anything,” Margaret stammered before he could speak. “Today, I have been rather… upset and I did something I now very much regret.”

“What was it?” David asked.

“Margaret slapped Dr O’Brien when he called here a short time ago,” Will interjected and, out of the corner of an eye, saw Margaret give him an incredulous glance.

“Why would Dr O’Brien call here?” David added suspiciously.

“I called to number 30 earlier today and matters became rather heated,” Margaret explained. “I behaved atrociously and a short time ago Dr O’Brien called here to inquire after my state of health. It was then that I behaved atrociously to him.”

“In that case, you should go downstairs to the hall where he is waiting with Isobel and apologise to him.”

“I shall,” Margaret replied and scurried from the room.

“Do you often choose to sit on the beds of ladies who are not your wife?” David demanded and Will tensed.

“Only ones who have realised their husband will never even like them and simply married them for material gain.”

“Will,” his father snapped.

“You can’t even pretend to be a husband to her, can you, David?” Will ignored his father. “You can’t even befriend her – take an interest in anything she enjoys – take her out for meals – or to the theatre – because all you wanted from this charade of a marriage was this house, a medical practice and as high a social standing as you could grab with both hands. Soon, society will wonder – if they are not wondering already – why you are never seen socialising with your wife.”

“You don’t socialise either. And I would thank you and your wife not to interfere.”

“That is because my wife and I are not desperate to achieve a higher social status. And we are ‘interfering’ because very soon, your wife’s health will breakdown completely.”

“Just like your mother’s has,” David sneered and Will made a grab for his throat, only for his father to push him away.

“Enough.” His father placed himself between them. “Do not mention my wife in that way ever again,” he ordered David, who flushed.

“I apologise,” he replied quietly.

“I am ashamed to say that Margaret has been neglected lately,” his father continued. “That shall be remedied, Will, I can assure you.”

“Remedied in what way?” Will asked. “Her family need to know she is ill so they can give her the help and support she needs – and if you won’t tell them – I will.”

“Don’t make threats.”

“It’s not a threat, Father, it’s a promise. Mrs Dawson is currently in Wicklow – no doubt you have the address. I shall call here on Friday evening and if I discover that David has not gone there and afforded Mrs Dawson the courtesy of informing her face-to-face that Margaret is ill, I shall travel to Wicklow on Saturday and tell her myself. Now, I think it would be best if Isobel, Bob and I saw ourselves out. Good evening to you both.”

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I’ve created a map of the Dublin area with locations which feature in The Fitzgeralds of Dublin Series. As a few locations don’t exist anymore, some are approximate but I’ve been as accurate as I can. Tap/Click in the top right hand corner to open the map.


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Photo credit: “Portret van een onbekende man met hoed” by Felix Friedrich Busenbender and Woodbury & Page, Rijksmuseum is in the Public Domain, CC0 / A derivative from the original work