Meet A Cruel Mischief’s Dr Jacob Smythe

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

Dr Jacob Smythe is eighty-five years old and was born in – and still lives in – number 8 Rutland Square East on the north side of Dublin. The love of Jacob’s life married another man and he vowed to never marry but he did not take a vow of chastity and fathered at least four children with his patients over the years.

Jacob practised medicine until 1883 when Dr Will Fitzgerald’s father John put pressure on him to retire. Also a retired doctor, John is now editor of the Journal of Irish Medicine and gave Jacob a position there making sure the elderly gentleman does as little as possible.

When John notices Jacob’s memory is fading fast, he brings him to Will for assessment. Will examines and questions Jacob and agrees with his father that senility is setting in at a rapid rate. Right up until he retired from medicine, Jacob had a penchant for all too freely dispensing laudanum tinctures to ladies. They included Will’s mother Sarah who became dependent on it for a time so she will be angry that Jacob is now one of Will’s patients but with just two elderly servants, Jacob needs to employ a nurse as soon as possible and a doctor must oversee his care.

With Jacob incapable of working anymore and with just £200 in cash stored in a box on the floor of his wardrobe, how can Will’s fees be paid, a nurse be employed and the butler and cook-housekeeper be kept in their positions and out of the workhouse? Where can the considerable and urgently needed money be found?  

Dublin, Ireland, October 1885. The fragile peace within the Fitzgerald family is threatened when Dr Jacob Smythe becomes one of Will’s patients, angering his mother. But in attending to the elderly gentleman’s needs, Will inadvertently reunites Sarah with an old adversary and Isobel discovers she and Dr Smythe have an unexpected and tragic connection.  

When Alfie receives a card on his twenty-ninth birthday, the recognisable handwriting and cryptic message shatters his hard-won personal contentment. Has a figure hoped long gone from his life returned to Dublin to wreak a cruel mischief on all those who banished him? Is Alfie’s ambition of becoming a doctor about to be derailed when he has less than a year left at Trinity College?

Read an excerpt from Chapter One…

On Wednesday morning, three responses were delivered to the practice house and on Friday afternoon following their house calls, Will and Barbara sat down in her parlour on the second floor with eight letters and went through them.

“I think we can narrow them down to these two,” he said, laying a hand on top of them. “The other six applicants have experience with ladies only and it’s my guess they are applying through necessity only and not a with a genuine willingness to attend to a gentleman.”

“I agree and out of the two, I would choose Mrs Darby,” Barbara replied. “Unlike Miss O’Keefe, Mrs Darby may not be a trained nurse with qualifications but she certainly has experience. My only concern is her age.”

Will picked up Mrs Darby’s letter and read the pertinent paragraphs again.

I am a native of Dublin who recently returned from forty-one years in the United States of America. I was a Union Army nurse during the Civil War and afterwards, I nursed my husband who suffered a shotgun wound to the head and never regained his full mental faculties. My husband died in May, hence my decision to return to Ireland.

I am sixty-three years old and in excellent health. I am willing to be engaged as a nurse and I can also housekeep if required. I will be found kind and attentive and very useful in the gentleman’s home.

“Even if Dr Smythe doesn’t engage Mrs Darby, I’d very much like to meet her.”

“So would I, Will.”

“I’ll go and see my father and we’ll pass these two letters to Dr Smythe and discuss them with him. Thank you for this, Barbara.”

“Not at all,” she replied. “Have you told your mother that Dr Smythe is now one of your patients?” she asked and he shook his head. Like a coward, he’d been putting it off. “You really should tell her.”

“I know. I’ll call on her this evening.”

His father was leaving the offices of the Journal of Irish Medicine when Will turned onto Hume Street ten minutes later.

“Father?”

“Ah, Will. Were there many responses?”

“Eight but Barbara and I have whittled them down to these two,” he said, passing the letters to his father. “Read them over dinner and I’ll call to number 67 when I’ve eaten and we’ll go and see Dr Smythe. I must also tell Mother that Dr Smythe is now one of my patients – simply as a courtesy,” he added. “Nothing more.”

“Very well.”

“Did you find the box of money?” he inquired and his father nodded.

“It contained two hundred and twenty pounds, eight shillings and sixpence. Seven pounds went straight to Mrs Macallister to pay outstanding debts to the butcher and the coalman.”

“When were wages last paid to the Macallisters?”

“Two months ago so I gave them five pounds each. Will, Jacob can’t afford to pay a nurse any more than thirty pounds per annum. I wish it were more but I must eke out Jacob’s saving while he and I decide which items of furniture and which paintings must be sold.”

“Do whatever needs to be done,” he said and his father nodded.

Isobel was coming down the stairs when he closed number 30’s front door behind him and hung his hat on the stand.

“This evening, Father and I will call on Dr Smythe so he can choose from the two most suitable applicants,” he said, placing his medical bag on the hall table and kissing her lips. “So I must eat and run, I’m afraid.”

“You’re meeting your father at number 67?” she asked and he nodded as he unbuttoned his overcoat, shrugged it off and hung it up beside his hat. “In that case, I’ll come with you and spend the evening with your mother. I hope you’re hungry. Mrs Dillon has made the most enormous steak and kidney pie.”

“I’m ravenous.”

“Good.” She took his hand and led him into the breakfast room.

Three-quarters of an hour later, Tess, one of his parents’ house-parlourmaids, admitted them to number 67 Merrion Square and showed them into the morning room.

“Isobel and Will.” His ageless mother put a periodical to one side, got up from the sofa and kissed their cheeks. “Is there something wrong?”

“No, not at all,” he replied. “Father and I are calling on Dr Smythe and, rather than sitting at home alone, Isobel has come to spend the evening with you.”

“Dr Smythe.” His mother tensed and sat down again. “You and your father?”

“Father brought a medical concern he had with Dr Smythe to my attention and, as a result, Dr Smythe is now one of my patients. I am informing you, Mother, as a courtesy.”

“I see,” she replied shortly.

“I don’t know how long we’ll be.”

“It doesn’t matter,” Isobel said and he nodded to her and his mother then returned to the hall where his father was shrugging on his overcoat.

“Mother now knows Dr Smythe is a patient of mine,” he said and his father simply nodded, lifted his hat down from the stand and they left the house in search of a cab.

“Mrs Darby sounds intriguing,” his father said, handing the two letters to him as a cab stopped for them on the corner of Merrion Square South and Merrion Street Upper.

“Yes, she does,” Will replied. “Number 8 Rutland Square, please,” he instructed the cabman before climbing inside after his father. “Out of the two, she would be my choice to meet and interview but, of course, it’s up to Dr Smythe.”

Macallister admitted them to the house, brought them upstairs and announced them. The drawing room was very masculine and contained a huge brown leather sofa and two wingback armchairs similar to those found in a gentleman’s club plus numerous side tables, a bookcase and a writing desk and a table at each of the windows. A fire was blazing in the hearth and Dr Smythe got up from one of the armchairs which stood on either side of the fireplace and shook their hands.

“Doctors Fitzgerald – come in and sit down. According to Macallister, my memory is behaving itself today. Would you like a drink? Whiskey? Brandy?”

“Thank you but no,” Will replied and held up the letters. “I have brought two responses to the advertisement for you to read and consider.”

Dr Smythe took the letters, sat in his armchair and gestured for them to take a seat. Will chose the sofa, well away from the fireplace, while his father went to the second armchair and they waited for Dr Smythe to read both letters.

“This applicant – no,” he announced and before Will could stop him, dropped one of the letters into the fire. “But I would be most obliged if you could request that Mrs Darby attends for an interview here.”

“Her age and lack of nursing qualifications don’t concern you?” Will asked.

“Edward,” Dr Smythe replied and Will heard his father shuffle in his armchair making the leather squeak. “I once had a patient who fought in that war. He was shot in the knee. The wound turned gangrenous and the leg had to come off. He told me the army nurses saw things no woman should ever see and did things no woman should ever do. So I want to meet Mrs Darby.” Getting up, he lifted Will’s hand and slapped the letter onto his palm. “At her earliest convenience.”

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Meet A Cruel Mischief’s Gordon Higginson

Gordon Higginson is a forty-six-year-old barrister with chambers on Henrietta Street on the north side of Dublin. He was born and grew up on Mountjoy Square, studied law at Trinity College and now lives at number 33 Rutland Square.

Number 33 had been owned by Samuel Laban, a barrister friend of Gordon’s. When Samuel died unmarried and childless, he bequeathed the house to a cousin who didn’t want it and put it and the contents up for auction. Gordon bought the house cheaply as it was in a dilapidated condition and he had it renovated and decorated. He is proud to live in the largest house on the west side of Rutland Square.

Gordon is married to Elizabeth, nee Dawson – Margaret Powell’s elder sister – who loves him without question. They have two daughters – Olivia and Jemima – but Gordon hopes they will have a son in due course.

Quick thinking, ruthless and arrogant, Gordon is respected but not liked. He is a useful acquaintance for Will and Isobel to have but they know he can never be trusted. Gordon proved his worth by skillfully devising a scheme to put an end to a crisis in Margaret’s marriage. Now, two years on, has the figure hoped long gone from Dublin returned to wreak a cruel mischief on those who banished him? Has Gordon’s grand scheme begun to unravel?

Dublin, Ireland, October 1885. The fragile peace within the Fitzgerald family is threatened when Dr Jacob Smythe becomes one of Will’s patients, angering his mother. But in attending to the elderly gentleman’s needs, Will inadvertently reunites Sarah with an old adversary and Isobel discovers she and Dr Smythe have an unexpected and tragic connection.  

When Alfie receives a card on his twenty-ninth birthday, the recognisable handwriting and cryptic message shatters his hard-won personal contentment. Has a figure hoped long gone from his life returned to Dublin to wreak a cruel mischief on all those who banished him? Is Alfie’s ambition of becoming a doctor about to be derailed when he has less than a year left at Trinity College?

Read an excerpt from Chapter Three…

[Will] walked around the square to number 33 and rang the doorbell of the Higginson residence before blowing out his cheeks. He didn’t trust Gordon one bit but this had to be done. The Higginson’s butler opened the front door and Will mustered up a smile.

“My name is Dr Will Fitzgerald. Is Mr Higginson at home?”

“I shall ask, Dr Fitzgerald. Please come in.”

Will went inside, the butler closed the door then took his hat and hung it on the stand before going up the stairs which rose around three walls of the hall. A few moments later, Gordon came down the steps with the butler behind him.

“Will.”     

“Gordon. May we speak in private?”

“Come with me.”

Will followed the barrister up the stairs and into the drawing room. Gordon gestured to an armchair and Will sat on the edge while Gordon went to the sofa and listened intently as Will explained the reason for his call. When he finished, Gordon sat back, crossed his legs and swore profusely up at the ceiling.

“And the birthday card was received on what date?” Gordon asked, lowering his head and Will swallowed a curse. He should have known this would turn into a cross-examination.

“October 31st. It was Alfie’s twenty-ninth birthday.”

“You have never thought to tell me before this that your brother-in-law was David’s lover?”

“No,” Will replied shortly. “Up to now, no-one outside the family has been told – for quite obvious reasons.”

“When did Alfie see David last?”

“The day Margaret was raped. He had not seen nor heard from David until he received the birthday card.”

“And you believe him?”

“Yes, I do,” Will snapped. “If you had seen how shaken Alfie was the morning of his birthday, you would believe him, too.”

“Very well.”

“Have you heard from David at all?”

“No.”

“So, you don’t know if he is still living where he chose to go?”

“No.”

“Christ, Gordon,” Will roared, thumping a fist on the arm of the chair. “David could be back here in Dublin.”

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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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Meet A Forlorn Hope’s James Ellison

Please note this post contains SPOILERS for The Fitzgeralds of Dublin Series books one to three. If you haven’t read them yet, click/tap on the banner to catch up!

Fifty-eight year-old James Ellison is Will Fitzgerald‘s solicitor. James was in partnership with Ronald Henderson for thirty years until Ronald’s sudden death in late 1880. Unknown to James, Ronald was gay and died in a brothel in Dublin’s red light district known as Monto. James ensured that a scandal was averted and only scant details of Ronald’s death appeared in the newspapers. James’ eagerness to avert a scandal was not only out of respect for his friend and business partner but also because he was in love with Ronald’s widow, Martha, Isobel Fitzgerald’s mother.

James’ only son died aged fourteen of consumption and when his wife died, James expected to be alone for the rest of his life but when Ronald introduced him to Martha shortly before their marriage, James fell in love with her instantly despite knowing nothing could come of it. When Ronald died and Martha discovered he had married her solely for companionship, James had to put his feelings aside and assist her with the settlement of Ronald’s estate.

But James couldn’t keep away from Martha and Alfie Stevens, Isobel’s brother, noticed how often James was calling to number 55 Fitzwilliam Square. Realising James was courting her mother far too soon after Ronald’s death, Isobel went to James’ offices and asked him what his intentions were towards her mother. James told Isobel that he and her mother were in love, they would be extremely circumspect and when a year had passed since Ronald’s death, they would marry.

James and Martha married in December 1881 at St Peter’s Church and James moved into number 55. He continued to practise law alone from his offices on Westmoreland Street.

When Will and Isobel discovered Will’s father, John, had persuaded Fred Simpson’s childless widow, Margaret to enter into a marriage of convenience with Alfie’s former lover David Powell, it enraged them and they retaliated by denying John access to his three grandchildren.

When A Forlorn Hope begins, over a year has passed since the marriage and when John meets Will and Isobel in St Stephen’s Green, he threatens legal action if they continue to deny him access to young John, Ben and Belle. Will and Isobel ask James for assistance but will they want to hear, agree to and comply with his legal advice?

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 One…

Will managed to swallow his anger at his father for most of the afternoon as he made house calls. Closing number 30’s front door at just before half past four, it rose again and he shook his head as Isobel came out of the morning room.

“Young John has made a friend and I may have made one, too,” she announced with a smile and kissed his lips.

“Oh?” he replied, hanging his hat on the stand and placing his medical bag on the hall table before following her into the morning room while she told him about the Pearsons. “Her husband lost an arm?”

“Yes. His right arm.”

“Where was he stationed with the army?”

“India, where he and Marianne got married, and then Egypt.”

“And they are moving into number 7. Well, well. I’m glad the house won’t be standing empty for much longer. What is Daniel like?”

“Small and blonde and I don’t think he had ever seen ducks before.”

Will smiled, hearing voices in the hall. “How was Mother?” he asked just as the door opened and Zaineb, one of their house-parlourmaids, showed a worried-looking James Ellison into the room.

“Gorman said you asked that I call and that it was a professional matter.”

“I’m afraid it is,” Will replied, nodding his thanks to Zaineb and the maid left the room. “Please sit down, James, and we’ll explain.”

He and Isobel sat on the huge reddish-brown leather sofa while James sat in one of the armchairs and listened intently while Will recounted the meeting with his father in St Stephen’s Green.

“And he said, ‘If you and Will continue to deny me that right, I shall have no choice but to speak with my solicitor,’” the solicitor clarified.

“Yes.” Will nodded.

“And did you reply?” James added.

“I told him not to dare threaten us. Then a few minutes later, Isobel saw him go into the offices of Hugo Blackwood & Son – Hugo Blackwood is his solicitor. James, does my father have a legal right to visit his grandchildren?”

“Well.” James sighed. “He is the children’s grandfather and you have been denying him access to them for over a year…”

“So what do you propose we do?”

“You and Isobel have two choices. The first is to grant your father visitation rights before he has the opportunity to take the matter any further. The second is to do nothing for now. Wait and see what your father does. His going into the offices of Hugo Blackwood & Son this morning could have been a bluff as he may just have been doing as you are doing now and seeking legal advice. The problem is that the longer he is denied access to the children, the more likely it is that he does instruct Hugo Blackwood to take legal action against you both.”

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Meet A Discarded Son’s Miles Greene

Miles Walker Greene

Miles Walker Greene was born in 1835, the only son of Lewis Greene and his wife Matilda (Tilda) and is a twin brother to Isobel Fitzgerald’s mother, Martha. Tilda had not known she was carrying twins until she gave birth. Martha was born first but Miles took a long time to be born.

All was well at first, and Lewis and Matilda were delighted to have an heir to the Greene Hall estate. Soon, however, it became evident that Miles was not developing like other children. Miles was examined by the Greene’s doctor and he was deemed to be – in the terminology of the time – a ‘simpleton’ or an ‘idiot’.

Tilda blamed herself and could not bear to even look at her son and when she claimed he was beginning to frighten Martha, Lewis sent Miles away to St Patrick’s Hospital in Dublin – an asylum where he could be cared for properly. Lewis watched his year-old son being driven away in a carriage down the drive then let it be known that Miles had died and a large funeral was held for him.

Miles becomes a chamber boarder at St Patrick’s Hospital with his own apartment and a servant – Peter O’Connor. The annual fee, plus Peter’s wages, as well as an allowance for furniture, clothes, shoes and other sundries is always paid promptly but there is no other contact whatsoever with the Greenes. Miles is a gentle soul who loves reading and amasses a huge collection of books, most of which Peter purchases for him as Miles does not leave the hospital grounds.

When Lewis’ doctor informs him that he has lung disease and it will kill him, he resolves to go to Dublin and see Miles. Tilda does not want to go but Lewis insists and he rents a house on Fitzwilliam Square. Isobel spots her grandfather in the congregation at her mother’s wedding to solicitor James Ellison and that evening Lewis confesses a secret – one which has been kept for over forty years. His son is alive and he wants to see Miles one last time before he dies.

This presents a huge conundrum. What, if anything, has Miles been told about his parents and family? How severe is Miles’ mental illness and how will he react when he is told that his mother does not wish to be reunited with him but that his father, who sent him away, does?

Greene Hall

Dublin, Ireland, 1881. Isobel Fitzgerald’s mother, Martha, marries solicitor James Ellison but an unexpected guest overshadows their wedding day. Martha’s father is dying and he is determined to clear his conscience before it is too late. Lewis Greene’s confession ensures the Ellisons’ expectation of a quiet married life is gone and that Isobel’s elder brother, Alfie Stevens, will be the recipient of an unwelcome inheritance.

When a bewildering engagement notice is published in The Irish Times, the name of one of the persons concerned sends Will and Isobel on a race against time across Dublin and forces them to break a promise and reveal a closely guarded secret.

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Read an Excerpt from Chapter Two…

Will had one urgent house call to make on Wednesday afternoon but met Isobel and his father at number 67 at half past three and they took a cab to St Patrick’s Hospital. Isobel went straight to Miles’ apartment with a copy of Wuthering Heights and a tin of mince pies, while Will and his father went to the medical superintendent’s office.

“Miles Greene has the mental capacity of a fifteen-year-old boy,” Dr Harrison told them. “He is not violent or aggressive – never has been – even when he sometimes struggles to express himself – and if it were not for the fact that his parents did not want a ‘slow’ or ‘simpleton’ child, he could have lived with them perfectly well and not be tucked away here.”

“So, Miles is capable of living in an ordinary home?” Will asked and Dr Harrison nodded.

“Miles likes everything tidy, orderly and just so. I believe he could live a happy life in a quiet home with some supervision. Can you give him a home, Dr Fitzgerald?”

“No, I’m afraid not,” Will replied. “My wife and I have three young children but Miles could be accommodated in my wife’s mother’s home. Except—” He sighed. “My mother-in-law is currently away on honeymoon and she has always believed her brother to have died at a year old. The news will have to be broken to her and to her new husband when they return and the possibility of giving Miles a home discussed.”

“And Miles’ parents?” Dr Harrison added.

“Mr Greene is too ill to visit him and Mrs Greene continues to want nothing to do with her son,” Will explained.

“I see that it is a delicate matter all round.”

“Yes, it is.”

“Well, discuss the matter and let me know the outcome. If Miles can be given a home, the hospital shall need written consent from Mr Greene for Miles to be released from our care into the care of his sister and brother-in-law.”

Will and his father left the office and as they approached Miles’ apartment, Will could hear laughing and on opening the door saw Isobel performing an elaborate curtsy to her uncle.

“I have just taught Miles how to waltz,” she said. “Miles, come and meet Will’s father. Miles, this is John Fitzgerald. John, this is Miles Greene.”

“I’m very pleased to meet you, sir.” Miles shook Will’s father’s hand. “Isobel tells me you are a doctor, too.”

“I am retired from practising medicine,” he clarified. “I now edit the Journal of Irish Medicine.”

“Dr Harrison reads that periodical, I have seen a copy on his desk.”

“Good. So, you have mastered the waltz?” he asked and Miles smiled.

“I wouldn’t say that, sir, but I now know all the steps. Thank you for visiting me.”

“You are very welcome, Miles.”

“When will you visit me again?” Miles turned back to Isobel.

“In the next few days, I promise,” she said, reaching up and kissing his cheek before leaving the apartment. “Well?” she asked as the porter showed them out of the hospital grounds. “Is Miles capable of living away from here?”

“Yes, he is,” Will replied. “But remember, Isobel, one thing at a time – it needs to be broken gently to your mother how ill her father is and then that Miles is alive – and she will need time in order to digest the news.”

“Yes, and I am dreading telling her – and James.”

“You won’t be alone,” he said, lifting her hand and kissing it. “Alfie and I will be with you. And we must not interfere – the final decision must be hers and James’.”

Explore my blog for more excerpts, character profiles and historical background information

The Fitzgeralds of Dublin Series

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Paperback ISBN: 9781723286810

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Author: Lorna Peel

Title: A Discarded Son

Series: The Fitzgeralds of Dublin

Genre: Irish Historical Fiction

Cover Designer: Rebecca K. Sterling, Sterling Design Studio

Ebook and Print Formatting: Polgarus Studio

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Cover photo credit: Wilhelm Roentgen (1845-1923), German physicist, received the first Nobel Prize for Physics, in 1901, for his discovery of X-rays in 1895: Everett Historical/Shutterstock.com and Portrait of a man in a top hat and morning suit holding a cane: Everett Historical/Shutterstock.com
Cover photo credit: Florence Court, County Fermanagh, Northern Ireland: phb.cz/Depositphotos.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Meet A Discarded Son’s Martha Ellison

Martha Ellison

Isobel Fitzgerald’s mother, Martha, was born in 1835 and is the only daughter of Lewis and Matilda (Tilda) Greene of Greene Hall, near Westport in Co Mayo, Ireland. She grew up an only child, believing her twin brother, Miles, died of whooping cough at a year old. She had a typical landed gentry upbringing, living in the nursery on the third floor of Greene Hall with a nursery maid and nanny until the age of twelve. The nursery then became the schoolroom and Martha had her own governess.

Martha was ten years old when the Great Famine began and she admits to Isobel that she was wholly oblivious to the tenants on the Greene Hall estate dying of starvation, being evicted from their homes and land and leaving the estate forever. Little wonder, with her secluded upbringing, Martha defied her parents and ran away from home to marry the first man to turn her head.

That man was the Reverend Edmund Stevens who was curate in the local Church of Ireland (Anglican) parish of Ballyglas. Upon his marriage, Edmund is given his own parish – Ballybeg in Co Galway – and a son, Alfie, is born ten months after his parents’ marriage and Isobel is born in 1857. Edmund ruled his wife – and later his son and daughter – with an iron fist, but while he controls his wife, he cannot completely control his children. Alfie has always wanted to become a doctor and refuses time and again to follow his father into the church and is beaten time and again. Isobel falls pregnant following a seduction, ruining all of Edmund’s plans for her to marry well, and she is whipped, disowned and thrown out of the Glebe House.

Edmund dies suddenly of a heart attack in January 1880 and Martha and Alfie leave Ballybeg and move to Dublin. Martha believes Isobel has gone to Dublin and Alfie seizes the opportunity to study medicine at Trinity College. Martha now needs her own solicitor to administer Edmund’s estate and she is introduced to Ronald Henderson. Within a few months, they are married and Martha is mistress of a grand home at 55 Fitzwilliam Square.

Martha is reunited with Isobel in November 1880 but her joy is short-lived. Ronald dies of a heart attack in a brothel in Monto, Dublin’s red-light district. She then discovers that not only did he own the brothel, but he had been there with a man. Poor Martha doesn’t think she will ever recover from the betrayal. She had believed herself to be in love with Ronald but Ronald had married her solely for companionship.

Solicitor, James Ellison, is a widower in his fifties and was Ronald’s business partner for thirty years. He settles Ronald’s estate but continues to call to number 55 on one flimsy pretext or another and appears to be courting Martha. Isobel confronts James as it is only a couple of months since Ronald’s death. James admits he and Martha are deeply in love, he knows they must be circumspect, and that when a year has passed since Ronald’s death, he will marry Martha.

A Discarded Son begins on Martha’s wedding day. Can Martha’s marriage to James Ellison be third time lucky for her?

Martha Ellison

Dublin, Ireland, 1881. Isobel Fitzgerald’s mother, Martha, marries solicitor James Ellison but an unexpected guest overshadows their wedding day. Martha’s father is dying and he is determined to clear his conscience before it is too late. Lewis Greene’s confession ensures the Ellisons’ expectation of a quiet married life is gone and that Isobel’s elder brother, Alfie Stevens, will be the recipient of an unwelcome inheritance.

When a bewildering engagement notice is published in The Irish Times, the name of one of the persons concerned sends Will and Isobel on a race against time across Dublin and forces them to break a promise and reveal a closely guarded secret.

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Read an Excerpt from Chapter One…

As soon as they returned to number 55, Mrs Ellison insisted on speaking to her in private and, reluctantly, Isobel followed her mother into the morning room. Closing the door, she looked at the hearth. A fire had been set that morning but not lit and the room felt unusually cool.

“You may now tell me the truth,” Mrs Ellison began. “Where are my father and mother living?”

Isobel grimaced. Was she so bad a liar these days? “I don’t—”

“The truth, Isobel,” her mother interrupted crisply.

“They have rented a house here on the square – number 7,” she said and Mrs Ellison went straight to the window and looked out at the street. “And you will call on them when you return from London.”

“No. I want them both here – now.”

“Mother, no,” she begged. “You have been looking forward to this day for such a long time don’t allow them to ruin it.”

“They are my parents,” Mrs Ellison replied, her voice rising.

“The same parents who cut you off when you married Father and who are now suddenly here in Dublin for your marriage to a gentleman they approve of.”

That made her mother flinch and Isobel hoped she hadn’t gone too far.

“I want them both here – now,” Mrs Ellison repeated quietly, walking to the rope and ringing for a servant.

“Very well.” Isobel reached for the doorknob.

“And I want you, Alfie, James and Will here when they arrive.”

Letting her hand drop to her side, Isobel walked to the window turning momentarily to the door as the butler came in then watched a ginger cat squeeze between the railings surrounding the Fitzwilliam Square gardens before disappearing from view.

“You rang, Mrs Ellison.”

“Gorman, please, send someone to number 7 and ask that Mr and Mrs Greene join Mr and Mrs Ellison for luncheon and to meet their families. Oh, and this means there will be two extra for luncheon.”

“Yes, Mrs Ellison.”

“And ask my husband, son and son-in-law to join myself and my daughter here.”

“Yes, Mrs Ellison.”

The butler left the room and Isobel pulled a face, only turning around again when the door opened and James, Alfie and Will came in.

“I have sent for my parents,” Mrs Ellison announced and Isobel met Will’s brown eyes for a moment. “And, no, Isobel does not approve of my decision but I want them both here on my wedding day.”

There was no response, Mrs Ellison gave a little shrug and the five of them waited in a tense silence until voices were heard in the hall and the butler came into the room.

“Mr Greene,” Gorman announced, the elderly gentleman walked in and Isobel peered behind him. Where was his wife? Why wasn’t she here? And why hadn’t she accompanied her husband to St Peter’s Church?

“Martha.” Mr Greene went to his daughter reaching out his hands. “Oh, let me look at you.” Clasping her hands, he stood back with a smile. “Oh, how I have missed you.”

Isobel clenched her fists and banged them against her thighs in frustration as her mother burst into tears. How could she be so forgiving?

“And I have missed you.” Her mother smiled through her tears. “Oh, Father…” Holding him to her, the two cried unashamedly.

Isobel glanced at Will who returned a helpless expression while Alfie began to shuffle uncomfortably and James examined his hands.

When the two finally stopped sobbing, Mrs Ellison wiped her tears away with her fingers and looked over her father’s shoulder.

“I must introduce you to my family, Father. This is James Ellison – my husband.”

James joined them and greeted his new and unexpected father-in-law with admirable calm politeness.

“Alfie?” his mother called and he shuffled forward. “My son, Alfie, is a medical student at Trinity College.”

“A budding doctor, eh?” his grandfather commented.

“I have wanted to be nothing else,” he replied.

“And this is my daughter, Isobel, and her husband, Will,” her mother continued and she braced herself as Will took her hand, led her to them and her grandfather inclined his head politely.

“Your concern for your mother is commendable, Isobel.”

“I do not wish to see my mother upset – especially on today of all days.”

“But I am not upset,” her mother protested with an almost hysterical laugh which made her cringe. “I am absolutely delighted to have my father here today.”

“Where is Grandmother?” she asked on behalf of them all and he gave her a little smile, no doubt having expected her question.

“Resting,” he answered simply and she didn’t believe him for a second.

Quickly realising she wasn’t going to reply, her mother gestured to Will.

“This is my son-in-law, Dr Will Fitzgerald.”

“Are you a Dublin man?” Mr Greene inquired.

“Yes, I am,” Will replied. “I was born and brought up on Merrion Square.”

“Isobel and Will have twins – a boy and a girl – Ben and Belle – who are five months old,” Mrs Ellison went on. “And they are raising Will’s nephew, John, who is almost four.”

“I am a great-grandfather.” Mr Greene smiled and shook his head. “Good gracious me. I may be as old as the century, but this news makes me feel utterly antiquated.”

“I think we should go upstairs and introduce Mr Greene to our guests,” James suggested and his wife nodded.

“And luncheon will be served soon.”

They went up the stairs to the pleasantly warm drawing room where Mrs Ellison introduced her father – wheezing after the climb – to the guests. Will’s mother, in particular, was astonished, Sarah having assumed her friend’s parents were both long dead.

“You don’t seem at all happy to finally meet your grandfather, Isobel,” Will’s father commented and she sighed, taking his arm and leading him to a relatively quiet corner.

“My grandparents cut Mother off when she ran away from home to marry my father just days after her twenty-first birthday and yet here they both are in Dublin – twenty-five years later.”

“Your grandfather has the pallor and laboured breathing of a very ill man,” he said as they observed Mr Greene now leaning heavily on her mother’s arm and she nodded.

“Grandfather is dying and my mother does not know – and will not know – until she and James return from London.”

“Of course. They live in Co Mayo, don’t they?”

“They did, but not anymore, apparently. They are renting number 7.”

“Here on Fitzwilliam Square?” John Fitzgerald’s eyebrows shot up.

“Yes. I think their move to Dublin and my grandfather’s ‘sudden’ appearance at the church were very carefully planned, despite his words to the contrary,” she said as Will came to them.

“James seems rather stunned, what do you think of all this?” his father asked.

“Poor James is walking on eggshells,” Will replied. “He did not expect to acquire parents-in-law. I agree with Isobel that Mr Greene’s ‘sudden’ appearance has taken careful planning, so I am rather… wary.”

“Well, do not agree to be your grandfather-in-law’s doctor whatever you do.”

Will shot his father a sharp look. “I’m sure Mr Greene already has a doctor.”

“My namesake didn’t look too happy to be wearing a skirt.” John swiftly changed the subject.

“He wasn’t happy,” Will confirmed. “He hated his ‘dress’. But when I left him at number 30 with Zaineb, he went running up the stairs ahead of her for his short trousers immediately.”

A quarter of an hour later, they all sat down to the wedding luncheon – a place setting for Mrs Greene having been added and then quickly taken away. Isobel glanced at Will’s estranged parents, placed opposite each other at the huge dining table. Living separately – although under the same roof at number 67 Merrion Square – John and Sarah had behaved impeccably at Ben, Belle and young John’s joint christenings and could put on a show of togetherness when required.

Isobel was seated between John and one of James’ brothers and, although she spoke politely with both men, she couldn’t rid herself of the shock and anger of her grandfather’s unexpected arrival. She had rarely thought of either her paternal or maternal grandparents over the years. Her father’s parents had both died long before Alfie and she were born and she had never expected to meet her mother’s father and mother.

Mr and Mrs Ellison were to leave by cab at five o’clock. It would take them to the North Wall Quay passenger terminus and the boat to Holyhead in Wales. From there, they would travel to London by train. Isobel went upstairs with her mother and helped her to put on an exquisite three-quarter length ‘going away’ coat and hat made from the same gold and emerald green satin as the wedding dress.

“Promise me one thing,” Mrs Ellison said as Isobel opened the bedroom door. “Promise me you won’t row with your grandfather while James and I are in London. I know you are not at all happy at his rather sudden appearance.”

“I cannot promise you that, Mother,” she replied truthfully.

“In that case, I would like you to keep away from him – and your grandmother.”

Isobel’s jaw dropped. “Keep away?”

“Yes, Isobel, keep away. Yes, they hurt me deeply – cutting me off when I married your father – and I appreciate your wish to protect me from any further distress. But until I have the opportunity to sit down with them and determine whether their move to Dublin is temporary or permanent and what either could mean for us all, I would like you to keep away from them – please?”

Isobel gave a little shrug. “I can only promise you that I shall not call on them. But if they call on me…” She tailed off intentionally and her mother sighed but nodded.

“Yes, it is natural that they would wish to see their great-grandchildren.”

Is it, Isobel wondered. Today was the first occasion Mr Greene had set eyes on his grandchildren, never mind his great-grandchildren, even though he has no doubt known of us all and where we live for quite some time.

“And now it is time for you to go,” she said, hugging and kissing her mother. “Have a lovely time in London.”

“I’ll try.”

They went downstairs and she kissed James goodbye. He smiled before giving her a firm nod, silently telling her he would ensure his new wife enjoyed her honeymoon.

Explore my blog for more excerpts, character profiles and historical background information

The Fitzgeralds of Dublin Series

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Paperback ISBN: 9781723286810

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Author: Lorna Peel

Title: A Discarded Son

Series: The Fitzgeralds of Dublin

Genre: Irish Historical Fiction

Cover Designer: Rebecca K. Sterling, Sterling Design Studio

Ebook and Print Formatting: Polgarus Studio

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Cover photo credit: Wilhelm Roentgen (1845-1923), German physicist, received the first Nobel Prize for Physics, in 1901, for his discovery of X-rays in 1895: Everett Historical/Shutterstock.com and Portrait of a man in a top hat and morning suit holding a cane: Everett Historical/Shutterstock.com
Cover photo credit: Florence Court, County Fermanagh, Northern Ireland: phb.cz/Depositphotos.com
Photo credit: John Singer Sargent – Mrs Henry White – Irina via Flickr.com / CC BY 4.0

Meet A Discarded Son’s Alfie Stevens

Alfred (Alfie) Stevens was born in 1856 at Ballybeg Glebe House, Co Galway, Ireland son of the Reverend Edmund Stevens and his wife Martha. His sister, Isobel, was born the following year. Theirs was not a happy household. Edmund Stevens ruled his wife and children with an iron fist. Alfie has always wanted to be a doctor but his father wanted Alfie to follow him into the church. When Alfie refused time and again, he was beaten time and again. Alfie also bravely stood between his father and his mother and sister on many occasions and took the beatings so they wouldn’t have to.

Alfie is gay but kept his sexuality a secret from everyone but Peter Shawcross, the son of a neighbour, who is also gay. When Alfie and Peter were caught together by Peter’s brother, James, he blackmailed Alfie into making sure Isobel is left alone with him. James seduced Isobel and when she told him she was pregnant, he left Ireland for America. Isobel was forced to tell her father who whipped her, disowned her and threw her out of the Glebe House.

Naturally, Alfie blamed himself but when his father dies suddenly of a heart attack in January 1880, he and his mother seize the opportunity to move to Dublin in the hope of finding Isobel and so he can study medicine at Trinity College. His mother marries solicitor Ronald Henderson and they move into number 55 Fitzwilliam Square but Ronald dies a few months later. His mother’s hysterical reaction to discovering her husband died in a brothel he owned and that he had been there with another man, makes Alfie swear to himself never to tell her he is gay, too.

Alfie and his mother are reunited with Isobel and, shortly afterwards, Isobel marries Dr Will Fitzgerald and they move into number 30 Fitzwilliam Square. At Trinity College, Alfie meets David Powell, who is also a medical student but in his final year, and they fall in love. When Will and Isobel accidentally find them together, Alfie makes them promise never to tell anyone.

When Will needs to employ another doctor at the Merrion Street Upper medical practice, Isobel suggests David even though he is less than a year qualified. Will takes him on and David proves to be an excellent doctor and even assists in the births of Will and Isobel’s children.

When Alfie and David are attacked outside a club for gay men and Will’s father hears a delirious Alfie calling out for David, he puts two and two together and is furious. Isobel persuades John to turn a blind eye and he reluctantly agrees. But can John Fitzgerald be trusted to keep Alfie and David’s relationship a secret?

954px-Long_Room_Interior,_Trinity_College_Dublin,_Ireland_-_Diliff

Dublin, Ireland, 1881. Isobel Fitzgerald’s mother, Martha, marries solicitor James Ellison but an unexpected guest overshadows their wedding day. Martha’s father is dying and he is determined to clear his conscience before it is too late. Lewis Greene’s confession ensures the Ellisons’ expectation of a quiet married life is gone and that Isobel’s elder brother, Alfie Stevens, will be the recipient of an unwelcome inheritance.

When a bewildering engagement notice is published in The Irish Times, the name of one of the persons concerned sends Will and Isobel on a race against time across Dublin and forces them to break a promise and reveal a closely guarded secret.

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Read an Excerpt from Chapter Two…

Isobel was shown into number 55’s morning room at just after three o’clock the following afternoon. The room was empty and she turned to the butler with a frown.

“Is my mother not at home?”

“Mrs Ellison – and then Mr Ellison – have gone to call upon Mr Greene,” Gorman told her. “Mr Stevens is upstairs in the library.”

“Oh, I see. Thank you.”

The butler closed the door after him and Isobel grimaced as she went to the window, wishing her mother had not called to number 7 so soon. Hearing voices in the hall, she glanced at the door as it opened and Alfie came in.

“Why didn’t you go with Mother and then James to number 7?” she asked.

“Because until James asked me – and then we asked Gorman – where Mother was, we didn’t realise she had gone out,” he replied. “I thought it best that James go after her to number 7. We had been discussing Miles. James has asked me to become Miles’ legal guardian. I had expected for it to be James but he explained why he should not. And why it should be me.”

“You sound as if you don’t want to do it.”

“I will do it—” Alfie stopped abruptly and spread his hands helplessly. “But James has told me he wants the Greene Hall estate to pass to me and not Miles when the time comes. Yes, it would be better not to have Miles be made a ward of court but, even so, I can’t help but think the Greene Hall estate should be his – not mine.”

“Alfie, we shall all be on hand to help and advise you.”

“Isobel, I will never be married – I will never have a son…”

“And neither will Miles.”

“But, unlike Miles, I shall be expected to marry and – when I don’t – my bachelor status will be commented on.”

“You will be a doctor with a busy Dublin practice with no time for marriage. There are plenty of bachelor doctors—”

“Who probably all have a ‘secret friend’ as I do.”

Two cabs stopped outside and Will got out of the first. Seeing her at the window, he smiled and she waited for him to be shown into the room.

“Mother and James are at number 7,” she told him before he could ask where they were and he rolled his eyes before peering past both her and Alfie at the street. “Have you asked the cabmen to wait?”

“Yes, and I hope your mother won’t stay too long – not because of the cabs – but because seeing your mother again will be upsetting for your grandfather. I wish she hadn’t called on him without my being present and I wish she hadn’t called on him until after visiting Miles.”

“Mother went first without telling James and I and James had to follow her,” Alfie explained and Will swore under his breath. “Is Mother going be too emotional for Miles?” Alfie added. “Especially as Miles needs a quiet home?”

“I need to speak to James and – oh – there they are now.”

Her mother and James were crossing the street, her mother waving her hands in the air in an agitated manner as she spoke to him while James simply shook his head before stopping and holding his arms out from his sides then letting them drop.

“Let’s go outside.” Will opened the door and then the front door for her. “James?” he called as the three of them left the house and James held up a hand to acknowledge him.

“I’m sorry, Will, but Martha took it upon herself to call to number 7, despite my having told her to wait until this evening.”

“Do I need to call on Mr Greene?” Will asked.

“No, he is as well as can be expected. Despite having to deal with the unexpected caller.”

“My father was delighted to see me,” Mrs Ellison announced proudly.

“Did you or he mention Miles?” Isobel inquired.

“I had to,” her mother replied and Isobel’s heart sank. “James told me the hospital requires written consent from my father for Miles to come and live here – which I now have,” she continued triumphantly, holding up an envelope.

“Did you see Grandmother?” Isobel added as Will opened the door of the first cab and James helped his wife inside and she sat down.

“Mother was ‘resting’. Whether she does or does not wish to see me is entirely up to her but Father – oh, Will – that contraption – the face mask – the oxygen cylinder…”

“Your father needs it,” Will replied. “To be blunt, Martha, your father cannot now live without inhaling oxygen and he must not be upset or agitated unnecessarily and I would have preferred that you had not called on him this first time without my being present.”

Mrs Ellison flushed at Will’s stern tone but raised her chin defensively. “So James told me – but he is my father – I had to visit him.”

“And he is my patient – and I am trying to ensure he receives the best of care – please consider his needs in future and not your own.”

Explore my blog for more excerpts, character profiles and historical background information

Fitzgerald series Books

Buy A Discarded Son: The Fitzgeralds of Dublin Book Three for

Kindle

Or read A Discarded Son: The Fitzgeralds of Dublin Book Three FREE with 

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Buy A Discarded Son in paperback at

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Amazon ASIN: B07FDB3B3W

Paperback ISBN: 9781723286810

Fitzgeralds Series ASIN: B07W4WRWGM

goodreads11-1024x409

Author: Lorna Peel

Title: A Discarded Son

Series: The Fitzgeralds of Dublin

Genre: Irish Historical Fiction

Cover Designer: Rebecca K. Sterling, Sterling Design Studio

Ebook and Print Formatting: Polgarus Studio

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Cover photo credit: Wilhelm Roentgen (1845-1923), German physicist, received the first Nobel Prize for Physics, in 1901, for his discovery of X-rays in 1895: Everett Historical/Shutterstock.com and Portrait of a man in a top hat and morning suit holding a cane: Everett Historical/Shutterstock.com
Cover photo credit: Florence Court, County Fermanagh, Northern Ireland: phb.cz/Depositphotos.com
Photo credit: Cabinet card young man – Photographer: Wilber, Chardon Ohio – Property of LOST GALLERY and website owner. Used under CC BY-SA 4.0
Photo credit: The Long Room of the Old Library at Trinity College, Dublin by Diliff – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0

Meet A Discarded Son’s Lewis and Tilda Greene

Tilda and Lewis Greene Colourised

Lewis Greene is eighty-one years old and is landlord of the Greene Hall estate near Westport in Co Mayo, Ireland. His wife, Matilda (Tilda) Greene, nee Walker, is seventy-five years old. They married in 1834 and Tilda fell pregnant soon afterwards but it wasn’t until she gave birth that it was discovered she was carrying twins. Martha, Isobel Fitzgerald’s mother, was born first but the second baby took a long time to be born. It was a boy – an heir to the Greene Hall estate – and he was named Miles.

Soon, however, it became evident that Miles was not developing like other children. He was examined by the Greene’s doctor and he was deemed to be – in the terminology of the time – a ‘simpleton’ or an ‘idiot’.

Tilda blamed herself and could not bear to even look at her son and when she claimed he was beginning to frighten Martha, Lewis made the decision to send Miles away to St Patrick’s Hospital in Dublin – an asylum where he could be cared for properly. Lewis watched his year-old son being driven away in a carriage down the drive then let it be known that Miles had died and a large funeral was held for him.

Lewis and Tilda hoped they would have another son who would inherit the estate, but it was not to be and Martha had an isolated childhood, spending most of her time in the nursery with her nanny and nursery maid and then with her governess when the nursery became the schoolroom. A few days after her twenty-first birthday, Martha ran away to elope with the Reverend Edmund Stevens, the Church of Ireland (Anglican) curate of Ballyglas Parish and her parents disowned her.

Having lost both his children, Lewis’ interest in the Greene Hall estate dwindled and, as he aged, he spent more and more time in his library with his books. Tilda had more of an interest in the estate but the land agent, Mr Dudley, took no notice because she was a woman. Mr Dudley was given a free rein and, like many land agents, became feared and hated in the locality.

When Lewis’ health began to decline, Tilda devoted all her time to caring for him. But when Lewis’ doctor informs him that he has lung disease and it will kill him, Tilda is appalled and fearful when, not only do his thoughts turn to their son, but he resolves to go to Dublin and see Miles. Tilda does not want to go – both her children are dead to her – but Lewis insists and he has Knox, his butler, make inquiries as to the whereabouts of their daughter. Martha and her children are easy to locate, especially when the notice announcing the engagement between Martha and James Ellison is published in The Irish Times.

Lewis rents a house on Fitzwilliam Square and his granddaughter Isobel spots him in the congregation in St Peter’s Church on Aungier Street on her mother’s wedding day. That evening, Lewis confesses a secret to Isobel, her husband, Will, and her brother, Alfie – one which has been kept for over forty years – his son is alive – and he wants to see Miles one last time before he dies. This presents a huge conundrum. Martha believes her twin brother died at a year old and what, if anything, has Miles been told about his parents and family? How will he react when he is told that his mother does not wish to be reunited with him but that the father who sent him away to an asylum does? Will Lewis Greene ever get his dying wish?

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Dublin, Ireland, 1881. Isobel Fitzgerald’s mother, Martha, marries solicitor James Ellison but an unexpected guest overshadows their wedding day. Martha’s father is dying and he is determined to clear his conscience before it is too late. Lewis Greene’s confession ensures the Ellisons’ expectation of a quiet married life is gone and that Isobel’s elder brother, Alfie Stevens, will be the recipient of an unwelcome inheritance.

When a bewildering engagement notice is published in The Irish Times, the name of one of the persons concerned sends Will and Isobel on a race against time across Dublin and forces them to break a promise and reveal a closely guarded secret.

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Read an Excerpt from Chapter One…

Hurrying to the east side of the square as heavy drizzle began to fall, [Isobel] saw a small group of people bending over a figure lying on the pavement which surrounded the railings and the gardens.

“I am Dr Fitzgerald, stand back, please,” Will instructed and they did as he asked. She crouched down on one side of Mr Greene while Will knelt on the other and felt her grandfather’s neck for a pulse. “He’s alive,” he told her before running his fingers across the elderly man’s scalp. “But only just. And he’s very cold but, thankfully, there is no head injury. Are all of you servants in number 7?” he asked the group and one smartly-dressed man in his fifties stepped forward with Mr Greene’s top hat and walking cane in his hands.

“Yes, we are, Dr Fitzgerald,” he replied. “I am Knox, Mr and Mrs Greene’s butler.”

“Please ask for some water to be heated and round up as many hot water bottles as you can find.”

“Yes, Dr Fitzgerald.” The butler turned to a maid who accepted the top hat and cane from him and ran across the street and down the areaway steps.

“Please help me carry Mr Greene upstairs to a bedroom.”

Isobel picked up Will’s medical bag as he took Mr Greene’s shoulders and Knox gripped Mr Greene’s ankles. She tailed them as her grandfather was borne across the street, up the steps and into the gas-lit hall but she halted at the front door.

“Where is Mrs Greene?” she asked a red-haired maid about to go down the areaway steps.

“I am here,” a severe voice announced from behind her and Isobel turned around.

At five feet eight inches, Isobel was considered tall for a woman. Standing in the morning room doorway, her grandmother was equally tall but as thin as Isobel was curvaceous. Plaited wavy grey hair was wound into a bun at the nape of her neck and she wore a purple satin dress. Mrs Greene looked her and then Will up and down, taking in her hastily tied-back hair and his lack of hat, collar and cravat. An eyebrow rose and Isobel fought to control a flush of embarrassment.

“Tell me what is needed and you shall have it,” her grandmother added crisply.

“Thank you, we shall,” Isobel replied before closing the front door and following the others up the stairs.

Her grandfather was brought to a large bedroom on the second floor at the front of the house and laid on the double bed. Will unbuttoned Mr Greene’s overcoat and raised him into a sitting position so the butler could peel it off. Discreetly turning her back, Isobel accepted her grandfather’s clothes from Knox as they were removed layer by layer. The overcoat was wet and the other clothes were damp and couldn’t be hung up in the huge mahogany wardrobe so she draped them over the back of a balloon-back bedroom chair so they could be taken away to be dried and aired.

When she turned back, Mr Greene was lying on the bed dressed in a white nightshirt and Will was returning a thermometer to his medical bag. Lifting out his stethoscope, he raised her grandfather into a sitting position again and Knox held Mr Greene’s shoulders while Will listened to his phlegmatic breathing and put the stethoscope away fighting back a grimace. Her grandfather was painfully thin and as Will lifted him up, Isobel pulled the bedcovers back. Mr Greene was placed in the bed and she covered him up to his chin.

“I asked for hot water bottles, where are they?” Will asked.

“I’ll go and see, Dr Fitzgerald.” The butler strode to the door and left the room.

“Does he have hypothermia?” she asked.

“No, but it could develop,” Will replied as the door opened again and her grandmother came in. “He must have been lying on the pavement since he left number 55 two hours ago.”

“My husband was determined to return there and speak with you and I assumed he was still with you,” Mrs Greene informed them. “Did not one of you offer to escort him back here?”

“I did,” Will said. “But he declined.”

“Will he live?” she asked, walking to the bed and gently smoothing long and bony fingers over her husband’s sparse white hair.

“Mr Greene is very cold but his temperature must be raised slowly,” Will said as a footman and two maids hurried into the room each carrying two hot water bottles and Isobel lowered the bedcovers. “Place all of them in the bed – not too close to Mr Greene – good. Thank you.”

“Can nothing else be done for him?” her grandmother asked as the servants left the bedroom and Isobel pulled the bedcovers up again.

“Sit with him, Mrs Greene, have the hot water bottles refilled every two hours, and raise his temperature.”

“Well.” Mrs Greene went to the bedroom chair and sat down, clasping her hands tightly together on her lap. “The boy has finally proved to be the death of my husband. My husband insisted on coming to Dublin. He insisted on reacquainting himself with Martha. And he insisted on telling you about the boy.”

‘The boy’ was now a man in his mid-forties but Isobel bit her tongue.

“You did not want Grandfather to meet Mother again?” Isobel asked and her grandmother fixed a cold stare on her.

“Your mother could have married into Lord Sligo’s family but she chose to run away from home and marry the curate of Ballyglas Parish. I knew the marriage would be disastrous and so it proved. She sent many letters bemoaning her situation and begging my husband and I to take her and her children in but, as you make your bed, so you must lie in it.”

“She told you Father was violent and you did nothing?” Isobel demanded.

“I burned the letters,” her grandmother replied matter-of-factly. “Your mother had made her choice and so she must live with that choice.”

“I did grasp your initial meaning,” Isobel replied tightly.

“I am so glad the items she stole from Greene Hall to pay for your excessively expensive education at Cheltenham Ladies College and for your brother’s at Harrow didn’t altogether go to waste.”

Isobel’s jaw dropped. “She stole from Greene Hall?”

“You thought that despite our pleas to your mother not to marry a man unworthy of her, your grandfather paid her marriage portion?” Mrs Greene smiled humourlessly. “No. He did not. Yours and your brother’s education were paid for by stolen property. Unfortunately, you chose to waste every penny by whoring yourself to a farm boy.”

“I did not whore myself to James,” she retorted, clenching her fists but unable to stop herself shaking with rage. “He seduced me.”

“You exude an overt sensuality, Isobel, which men are unable to resist,” her grandmother told her crisply, making a point of looking her up and down again. “I doubt very much if he needed too much of an excuse to get you on your back.”

“That is enough,” Will snapped and Mrs Greene gave him an icy smile.

“Took a fancy to Isobel in her parlourmaid’s uniform, did you, Dr Fitzgerald? Most men would not wish to touch soiled goods.”

“You have said quite enough. Isobel – we’re leaving.”

Explore my blog for more excerpts, character profiles and historical background information

Fitzgerald series Books

Buy A Discarded Son: The Fitzgeralds of Dublin Book Three for

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Amazon ASIN: B07FDB3B3W

Paperback ISBN: 9781723286810

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Author: Lorna Peel

Title: A Discarded Son

Series: The Fitzgeralds of Dublin

Genre: Irish Historical Fiction

Cover Designer: Rebecca K. Sterling, Sterling Design Studio

Ebook and Print Formatting: Polgarus Studio

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Cover photo credit: Wilhelm Roentgen (1845-1923), German physicist, received the first Nobel Prize for Physics, in 1901, for his discovery of X-rays in 1895: Everett Historical/Shutterstock.com and Portrait of a man in a top hat and morning suit holding a cane: Everett Historical/Shutterstock.com
Cover photo credit: Florence Court, County Fermanagh, Northern Ireland: phb.cz/Depositphotos.com
Photo credit: A portrait of an elderly couple: The digital photographic collections of the Community Archives of Belleville and Hastings County, based in Belleville, Ontario: Public Domain Mark 1.0
Photo credit: Florence Court, near Enniskillen, Co. Fermanagh, Northern Ireland – by Andrew Humphreys and used under CC BY-SA 2.5

The Fitzgeralds of Dublin Series

The Fitzgeralds of Dublin Series is a gritty family saga set in Victorian Ireland. The series brings to life the dark underbelly of Victorian Dublin society and gets to the heart of the social issues of the day. As I publish each book in the series I’ll be adding blog posts with character profiles, location histories and general background information. Below, I’ve listed all the posts so far and categorised them. Tap/click the blue link to open the post in a new tab. All the posts contain an excerpt from the books. I’ve also created a map of the Dublin area with locations which feature in the series. You can follow my blog by tapping/clicking the Follow button in the sidebar on the right or tap/click the Follow button that appears in the bottom right-hand corner of this website so you won’t miss a post.

The Books

Book One: A Scarlet Woman

Can an idealistic young doctor and a fallen woman find love when Victorian society believes they should not?

Book Two: A Suitable Wife

Can Will and Isobel hold the Fitzgeralds together when tragedy and betrayal threaten to tear the family apart?

Book Three: A Discarded Son

Can Will and Isobel right the wrongs of the past without hurting those closest to them?

Book Four: A Forlorn Hope

Can Will and Isobel bury their differences with those estranged from them and unite in a time of crisis or are some rifts too deep to heal?

Book Five: A Cruel Mischief

Can Will and Isobel prevent events of the past from influencing the present and future?

Books One to Three: Box Set

Out Now on Kindle and Kindle Unlimited

Character Profiles

Meet Isobel Stevens

Meet Dr Will Fitzgerald

Meet Will’s mother – Sarah Fitzgerald

Meet Will’s father – Dr John Fitzgerald

Meet Will’s best friend – Dr Fred Simpson

Meet Fred’s wife – Margaret Simpson

Meet Isobel’s grandparents – Lewis and Tilda Greene

Meet Isobel’s brother – Alfie Stevens

Meet Isobel and Alfie’s mother – Martha Ellison

Meet Solicitor James Ellison

Meet Martha’s twin brother – Miles Greene

Meet Dr David Powell

Meet Gordon Higginson QC

Meet Dr Jacob Smythe

Location Histories

A map of Dublin, Ireland – click/tap to open in a new tab

Merrion Square, Dublin, Ireland

The Liberties of Dublin, Ireland

Monto: Dublin’s Red Light District

Fitzwilliam Square, Dublin, Ireland

St Patrick’s Hospital, Dublin, Ireland

The Westmoreland Lock Hospital, Dublin, Ireland

Rutland Square, Dublin, Ireland

The Four Courts Marshalsea Debtors Prison

History

The Great Snow of January 1881

Dublin’s Coal Holes and Coal Cellars

Laudanum: The Aspirin of the Nineteenth Century

The Dublin Artisans Dwellings Company

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. Enjoy!

The Fitzgeralds of Dublin Series is

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Meet A Suitable Wife’s Sarah Fitzgerald

Sarah

Sarah Fitzgerald, née Crawford, was born in 1824 in York Street, Dublin, Ireland the second of three daughters. Sarah’s father, William, was the son of a draper from Parliament Street and became a surgeon at Mercer’s Hospital through hard work and stubborn determination on both his part and his father’s. Draper Crawford had to ensure he earned enough to keep his family fed and clothed and ensure William had the means to be bound as an apprentice to a prominent surgeon.

Continually reminded that he has ‘come from trade’ by certain sections of Dublin society, Surgeon Crawford wanted Sarah to marry well. His former apprentice, Duncan Simpson, had married Maria Wingfield of Rutland Square (now Parnell Square), but Duncan introduced Sarah and her father to his best friend, John Fitzgerald. A doctor with a home on Merrion Square and heir to a prosperous medical practice on Merrion Street Upper, John is the ideal husband.

Sarah and John married at St Peter’s Church, Aungier Street in 1845. Their son, Edward, was born in 1846 and joined the army while Will was born in 1849 and became a doctor.

At the start of A Suitable Wife, Sarah has been married for almost thirty-six years and believes herself to be still in love with John. But did Sarah marry John, a stern and rather secretive man ten years her senior, simply to please her father?

A_Suitable_Wife_SQUARE

Dublin, Ireland, 1881. Will and Isobel Fitzgerald settle into number 30 Fitzwilliam Square, a home they could once only have dreamed of. A baby is on the way, Will takes over the Merrion Street Upper medical practice from his father and they are financially secure. But when Will is handed a letter from his elder brother, Edward, stationed with the army in India, the revelations it contains only serves to further alienate Will from his father.

Isobel is eager to adapt to married life on Fitzwilliam Square but soon realises her past can never be laid to rest. The night she met Will in a brothel on the eve of his best friend’s wedding has devastating and far-reaching consequences which will change the lives of the Fitzgerald family forever.

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Read an excerpt from Chapter Seven…

Will was quiet as they strolled home arm-in-arm, his mind clearly on his father. As they approached number 30, she could hear raised voices and they stopped. Tess, Will’s parents’ house-parlourmaid who doubled as his mother’s lady’s maid, was hurrying down the steps to a waiting cab while Mrs Dillon pleaded with someone from the front door.

“Doctor and Mrs Fitzgerald will be home soon. Please come inside and calm yourself.”

“But I have no money to pay the cabman.” Will’s mother emerged from behind the cab smoothing down the skirt of her black dress and, to Isobel’s horror, sank down onto the kerb bursting into tears.

“Christ,” Will whispered and they ran to her. “Mother?”

“Oh, Will…”

“I’ll pay the cabman, Mother. Isobel will escort you inside.”

“Sarah.” Clasping her mother-in-law’s cold hands, Isobel raised her to her feet. “Come into the house, you’re freezing.”

“Tess, too?” Sarah asked and Isobel glanced at the girl. Usually, a capable maid, Tess’ face was ashen. What on earth had she heard or witnessed?

“Yes, Tess, too. Come inside.” Slowly they climbed the steps and went into the hall. “Mrs Dillon, this is Tess. Tess, this is Mrs Dillon. I think we could do with some tea – all of us,” she added with a nod towards the maid, and the housekeeper took Tess’ arm.

“Yes, Mrs Fitzgerald.”

“Come into the morning room, Sarah.” Isobel led her inside and sat her down on the sofa, hearing the front door close then silence as Will most likely hung up his hat and overcoat before his footsteps could be heard approaching the door.

“What’s happened, Mother?” he asked, coming in and closing the door behind him.

“Oh, Will,” she said in a shaky voice. “I don’t know where to begin.”

“Take your time.”

“I have separated from your father.”

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Buy A Suitable Wife: The Fitzgeralds of Dublin Book Two the sequel to A Scarlet Woman for   

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Or read A Suitable Wife FREE with 

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Buy the A Suitable Wife paperback at

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Amazon ASIN: B07FDB3B3W

Paperback ISBN: 9781723286810

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Author: Lorna Peel

Title: A Suitable Wife

Series: The Fitzgeralds of Dublin Book Two

Genre: Irish Historical Fiction

Cover Designer: Rebecca K. Sterling, Sterling Design Studio

Ebook and Print Formatting: Polgarus Studio

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Photo credit: Hubert von Herkomer – Emilia Francis (née Strong), Lady Dilke, is a derivative of irinaraquel, used under CC BY 4.0