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?

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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.

FitzgeraldSeries_TWITTER

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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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
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Meet A Suitable Wife’s John Fitzgerald

George_Bernard_Shaw_1925

Will Fitzgerald’s father, John, was born at number 67 Merrion Square, Dublin, Ireland in 1814, the eldest son of Dr Edward Fitzgerald and his wife Mary Jane neé Maquay. John’s younger brother Thomas died at a year old.

John met Duncan Simpson at the ‘Seminary for General Education’, a school run by the Reverend R.H. Wall at number 6 Hume Street. They became best friends but John followed Fitzgerald family tradition that the eldest son study medicine at Trinity College. Duncan was bound as an apprentice to William Crawford, a surgeon at Mercer’s Hospital while also studying at the private school of anatomy, medicine, and surgery in Park Street (now Lincoln Place) before receiving his letters testimonial from the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland. On graduating with an M.D. from Trinity College, John joined his father’s medical practice on Merrion Street Upper. Duncan became a renowned surgeon at Mercer’s Hospital and married Maria Wingfield of Rutland Square (now Parnell Square) in 1844.

In 1845, John married Sarah Crawford of York Street, William Crawford’s middle daughter. Their son, Edward, was born in 1846 and Will was born in 1849. In 1851, following the death of his father, John took over the Merrion Street Upper medical practice and entered into partnership with Dr Kenneth Wilson, father of Cecilia, Will’s former fiancée.

John is immensely proud of his sons but discovers they are just as stubborn as he is. Edward breaks with family tradition and insists on joining the army. Currently serving in India, Edward has been promoted to the rank of major and is married to Ruth with a son named after his grandfather but despite all this, John still wishes Edward had gone into medicine.

It is Will who was intent on becoming a doctor but John is appalled when, on graduating from Trinity College, Will joins the Merrion Street Upper practice only to leave after a few months to live and set up his own medical practice in the Liberties, a poorer area of Dublin. Nor does John approve of Will’s choice of wife. Isobel Stevens may be a well-educated clergyman’s daughter but she is a fallen woman and simply not good enough for his son. 

When Duncan dies suddenly in November 1880, John retires from practising medicine and offers the Merrion Street Upper practice to Will. When Will agrees to take over the practice, a relieved John takes up the position of editor at the Journal of Irish Medicine. It is a well paid position so John won’t be left out of pocket by no longer practising medicine.

Never one to display his feelings publically or otherwise, at the start of A Suitable Wife, John has become even more distant. At first, Sarah, Will and Isobel put John’s behaviour down to him coming to terms with losing his best friend, retiring from medicine and adjusting to an office job in a short period of time.

But when Isobel and Will each see John getting into a cab on St Stephen’s Green and then see him leaving a cab in the middle of Merrion Row whilest holding up all the traffic, they can’t help but be puzzled and concerned. Is John hiding something from his wife and family?

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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.

FitzgeraldSeries_TWITTER

Read an excerpt from Chapter Two…

A copy of The Irish Times was lying on the desk as Will went into his surgery the next morning. He put his medical bag down on the floor and glanced at the advertisements on the front page. What was he supposed to be looking at?

“Page four,” Fred informed him from the doorway.

Will went to the page and his heart sank. Doctor Saves Infant’s Life Through New ‘Piglet Procedure’. The article described how he had saved the life of the premature newborn son of the late Clive Ashlinn Q.C. Will was named but Fred, and how he had saved Cecilia’s life, was not.

“This is nothing to do with me, Fred.”

“No?”

“No,” he replied firmly. “The detail in this article could only have come from a doctor and I haven’t spoken to Cecilia’s father since that night.”

“Well, Dr Wilson certainly told someone after I’d spoken to him.”

“I’m sorry, Fred. This article should be about you. You saved Cecilia’s life.”

“Yes, but not with the ‘Piglet Procedure’,” Fred muttered. “I’ll see you this evening.”

Will sighed and closed the newspaper.

“Will?” About to run up the steps to number 30 and escape the cold just before one o’clock, Will turned hearing his father’s voice. “Have you seen The Irish Times?”

“I have,” he replied shortly as his father stopped beside him. “Come inside, it’s freezing.” Will hurried up the steps, opened the front door and they went into the hall. “Who was responsible for that sensationalist article?” he demanded, quickly closing the door and putting his medical bag on the hall table.

“I met Ken Wilson and he told me—”

“He clearly didn’t tell you the baby was full term,” Will interrupted and his father’s jaw dropped.

“Full term?”

“Yes,” he replied, taking off his hat and hanging it on the stand. “And, thanks to you, all those who can count and know Cecilia was the one who ended our engagement and married Clive Ashlinn with undue haste, now know why – she was pregnant with his child after having sexual relations with him behind my back. For God’s sake, Father, did you not stop for a moment to think – to count back the months? If the baby had been conceived after Cecilia married Clive, it wouldn’t have survived five minutes – if even that – no matter what was done to try and revive it. Fred saved Cecilia’s life. He performed a difficult caesarean – that old fool Smythe should have done it hours beforehand – and I get all the credit for clearing the baby’s airway. It’s completely ridiculous. Please don’t do it again.”

His father’s eyebrows rose in clear offence. “The practice needs more patients and it was an ideal opportunity to obtain some publicity for you. As well as that, I was going to ask you to submit a paper to the Journal of Irish Medicine.”

“On how to swing a baby by its ankles? Thank you, Father but, no. Ask Fred for one on the caesarean.”

“We receive papers on caesareans all the time.”

“Well write an editorial on elderly doctors and how they put their patients’ lives at risk.”

His father nodded. “I have heard complaints about Smythe before but he cannot be compelled to retire until…”

“He does actually kill someone.” Will rolled his eyes. “While you’re here, could you come into the breakfast room, I need to speak to you about Fred.”

They went inside and Will closed the door to the hall. The table was laid for luncheon and his stomach began to rumble.

“Is Fred in trouble, Will?” his father asked.

“Yesterday morning, I caught him in his surgery with a young woman.”

“A young woman? You mean a whore?”

Will winced. He hated the term. “I mean a prostitute. And it doesn’t seem to be the first time he’s brought one to the practice house.”

“I caught him twice with one.” His father sighed. “I thought that now he is going to be a father…”

“It would seem that has only made matters worse. Needless to say, we had ‘words’ about it. I told him if I caught him with a prostitute there again, he’d be out and—”

“You can’t dissolve the partnership so soon, Will,” his father interjected firmly. “How would it look?”

“Father, Fred’s sexual excursions are none of my business, but he will not indulge his urges at the practice house. He and Margaret are coming here to dinner this evening and I want to try and build bridges with him but I also think he misses his father greatly.”

“We all miss his father greatly.”

“Could you speak with him, please?” Will asked. “Perhaps bring him to your club for a drink occasionally?”

“Be a father figure to him, you mean?”

“Yes. I’m finding it very difficult to be a friend to him at the moment and the newspaper article certainly hasn’t helped matters.”

His father nodded. “It was well intended.”

“I know it was,” Will conceded. “But don’t expect Cecilia or her parents to be too pleased about it either.”

“No,” his father replied quietly. “How is Isobel?”

“A little nervous about the dinner as it’s our first but other than that she is very well.”

“Good. Well, I’ll let you begin luncheon.”

“Please don’t tell Fred I’ve spoken to you about him?” Will asked.

“I won’t.”

“Thank you for calling, Father, and my love to Mother.” He saw his father out and turned as he shrugged off his overcoat, hearing the morning room door open. “My father,” he told Isobel, hanging the overcoat on the stand.

“Yes, I heard his voice,” she said and closed the door. “Will, have you seen today’s Irish Times?”

“Fred showed the article to me.” Taking her hand, they went into the breakfast room. “He isn’t happy about it. My father has just told me he is responsible.”

“Oh.”

“I’ve asked him not to do it again.”

“You didn’t row, did you?” she asked.

“No. I didn’t row with Fred either.”

“Good.” She gave him a little smile. “For a moment, I thought you were going to tell me Fred has refused to come this evening.”

“Fred and Margaret are definitely coming to dinner this evening,” he assured her. “I have some house calls to make this afternoon, but I should be home before six o’clock.”

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

Kindle

Or read A Suitable Wife FREE with 

download

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: George Bernard Shaw 1925 – by Nobel FoundationPublic Domain via Wikimedia Commons

Meet A Suitable Wife’s Fred Simpson

Fred Simpson

Frederick (Fred) Simpson was born in December 1849 at number 1 Ely Place Upper, Dublin, Ireland, the only son of Duncan Simpson, a renowned surgeon, and his wife, Maria. Duncan Simpson and Dr Will Fitzgerald’s father, Dr John Fitzgerald were best friends and Fred and Will also became best friends.

Fred and Will attended the Weslyan Connexional School (now known as Wesley College) where they became friends with Jeremiah (Jerry) Hawley from Kingstown (now Dun Laoghaire).

Instead of becoming a surgeon like his father, Fred studied medicine at Trinity College Dublin with Will and Jerry. On graduating, Jerry moved to London and set up practice there, Will set up a practice in the Liberties area of Dublin, and Fred joined Dr John Fitzgerald’s prosperous medical practice on Merrion Street Upper.

At the start of A Scarlet Woman in July 1880 and, after spending his last night of freedom with Will and Jerry in a brothel in Monto, Dublin’s red light district, Fred marries Margaret Dawson from Dame Street in St Andrew’s Church. By Christmas 1880, Fred’s father has died suddenly, his mother has gone to live with her spinster sister on Rutland Square (now Parnell Square), and Margaret is expecting a baby.

When Dr John Fitzgerald retires in December 1880, Will takes over the Merrion Street Upper medical practice and he and Fred go into partnership together. They begin to rebuild the practice following the departure of many patients who left when Will’s father departed rather unexpectedly.

When A Suitable Wife begins in January 1881, Will finds that being in partnership with his oldest friend isn’t all plain sailing. Fred hasn’t come to terms with the sudden death of his father and his own impending fatherhood. Fred has become a law unto himself and is on the brink of bringing the good name of the practice crashing down. There is also ill-feeling between Fred and Eva Bannister, who has been practice secretary for the past twenty years but is now threatening to resign. Eva has always dealt professionally with both doctors and patients so the cause of the animosity cannot be a trivial matter.

Dealing with troubles of his own, difficulties with both Fred and the practice are the last thing Will needs to contend with and when he challenges Fred they almost come to blows. After almost five years of running the Brown Street medical practice alone, has Will made a terrible mistake in going into partnership with Fred? What can Will do to resolve matters before he and Fred actually do come to blows, Eva resigns and patients begin to notice a bad atmosphere causing more of them to leave the practice? Is this the end of Will and Fred’s long friendship?

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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.

FitzgeraldSeries_TWITTER

Read an excerpt from Chapter Two…

The following Monday, a gradual thaw had begun and a smoke-fog hung over Dublin. Will walked to the practice house half an hour early in order to write to two suppliers of fish bladder condoms, preferring to correspond from and have them sent to him there to avoid any embarrassment at number 30.

Hanging up his hat and overcoat in the office, he froze hearing a thud and then a moan from upstairs. He ran up the stairs two at a time and tried the door to his surgery but the room was still locked. He went along the landing, opened the door to Fred’s surgery and couldn’t help but stand and watch for a few moments. Fred was on his knees behind the desk, his head between the thighs of a young blonde woman seated in his chair, her head thrown back as she moaned and implored him never to stop.

“Fred.”

Fred jumped, straightened up and stared at him in consternation. “Will—”

“I think you should leave now.” He addressed the young woman remarkably calmly and she stood up allowing the skirt of her black cotton dress to fall. Grabbing her straw hat and black woollen shawl from the desk, she pushed past him and left the room. He heard her run down the stairs and a moment or two later, the front door slammed.

Fred got to his feet, pulled up his drawers and trousers and did up the buttons. “Will—” he began again but Will held up a hand.

“I could have been Eva coming to unlock all the doors.”

“I know. I’m sorry. Margaret won’t let me near her and—”

“That was the first and last time here, Fred. Do I make myself clear?”

Fred exhaled a humourless laugh. “You sounded exactly like your father, then.”

“Had my father caught you here with a prostitute?” he asked, Fred looked away and Will took it for a yes. “Well, I mean it, Fred.”

“Do you?” Fred demanded, turning back to him. “Christ, you can be so fucking holier than thou sometimes, Will. You wouldn’t be a tiny bit frustrated, would you? I take it you haven’t fucked Isobel since she lost the baby? Here.” Fred opened a desk drawer, lifted out a small red box and threw it at him. The box hit Will on the chest and fell to the floor. “Condoms. Take them and fuck your wife tonight.”

Will strode across the room, seized Fred by the throat and held him up against the wall. “First – my marriage is none of your concern. Second – your marriage is none of my concern. And third – if I find you here with a prostitute again, you will be out. You’re an excellent doctor but it was little wonder my father never made you his practice partner – you’re far too bloody immature.”

“Your father always wanted you to become his practice partner,” Fred croaked. “But you preferred to work in a fucking slum. You have all this and you still want to go back to the Liberties.”

“How many times do I have to tell you that Brown Street is not a slum and neither is Pimlico. I’m going back because I’m needed there.” Hearing the front door close, he let Fred go and stepped back from him. “You will not bring prostitutes here again,” he repeated quietly, then turned and left the room, stepping over the box of condoms.

Sitting down at the desk in his surgery, he closed his eyes for a few moments to suppress his temper before opening a desk drawer and lifting out some headed notepaper. He wrote the two letters then went straight out to post them so they would be amongst the first postal collections of the day.

After surgery three and a half hours later, he walked home without speaking to Fred again. He went into the morning room and found Isobel seated on the sofa reading a newspaper.

“Can we go to Pimlico this afternoon and clean the two rooms?” he asked her by way of a greeting.

“Yes, of course, we can,” she replied, closing and folding the newspaper before putting it on the arm of the sofa. “What is it? You sound angry.”

“I caught Fred in his surgery with a prostitute,” he said and her eyebrows rose but other than that, she didn’t seem at all surprised. “Needless to say, we argued. Oh, Christ.” Resting his hands on his hips, he stared up at the ceiling. “Have I made a terrible mistake going into partnership with Fred? Marriage hasn’t matured him, the death of his father hasn’t matured him, impending fatherhood hasn’t matured him…”

“Could you run the practice on your own?” she asked and he lowered his head.

“Yes, provided the number of patients stays as it is now but, ideally, the practice needs twice the number of patients we have now, and how would it look if I were to dissolve the partnership after such a short period of time?” Isobel’s frown gave him his answer. “I’ve given Fred one more chance,” he went on. “And if he throws it back in my face, then he’s out. Do you think Margaret suspects anything?”

“She seemed quite happy when I called but we aren’t really close enough friends for her to divulge anything too personal.”

“No, I suppose not. I’m sorry.” He bent and kissed her lips. “But sometimes Fred infuriates me.”

“Fred’s your oldest friend and you care about him. Which is why I think you should either postpone starting the surgery in Pimlico for a while. Or involve him, too.”

“Fred has the same attitude to the Liberties as my father and I don’t want a repeat of what that led to.”

“Well, it was just a suggestion,” she said with a little shrug.

“No, it’s a wonderful suggestion and if I broke Fred in gently—” He halted, seeing her smile. “Thank you,” he continued. “I’ll discuss it with Fred. The last thing I want is to fall out with him like I have with my father.”

“Shall we clean the rooms in Pimlico this afternoon, then?”

“No,” he decided. “Not until I’ve spoken to Fred. I have only three house calls to make this afternoon. Afterwards, I’ll take you out for tea or coffee – whatever you’d prefer. When the condoms arrive, I will make love to you for an entire afternoon.”

“When the condoms arrive?”

“I’ve ordered condoms from two manufacturers,” he explained. “And I’ll make my choice from them, although I know which Fred prefers.”

“Oh?”

“He threw a box of them at me.”

“Will, did you and Fred fight?” she asked slowly.

“Almost,” he admitted, staring down at his shoes like a naughty schoolboy. “I grabbed him by the throat.”

“For God’s sake, Will,” she snapped, getting to her feet. “What if Eva or your patients heard or saw you?”

“I know, I know. It won’t happen again.” She gave him a long look and he grimaced. “It won’t happen again, Isobel,” he repeated in a firm tone and this time she gave him a satisfied nod.

“You can take me out for coffee this afternoon. And perhaps a stroll around St Stephen’s Green? Then, on our way home, we’ll call to Ely Place Upper and invite Fred and Margaret to dinner in the next few days so you and he can discuss the future. Agreed?”

“Agreed,” he replied quietly then went to the fire to warm his hands.

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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: Portrait of a young man, 1870-1880: State Library of Queensland on Flickr: No known copyright restrictions

Meet A Suitable Wife’s Margaret Simpson

edith_wharton

Margaret Simpson, née Dawson, was born on Dame Street, Dublin, Ireland in 1857, the younger daughter of the late Nicholas Dawson and his wife. Nicholas Dawson was a solicitor and his offices at street level are now leased to a law firm while his widow lives alone on the floors above.

Having been in love with Dr Fred Simpson since seeing him at a church service when she was sixteen, Margaret can’t believe her luck when they marry in July 1880 and she moves to number 1 Ely Place Upper. In December 1880, Fred’s surgeon father, Duncan Simpson, dies suddenly and Fred’s mother, Maria, moves out and goes to live with her spinster sister, Diana Wingfield, on Rutland Square. Margaret is now mistress of number 1, but also finds herself expecting a baby.

As Fred and Dr Will Fitzgerald are old friends, Margaret hopes she and Will’s new wife, Isobel, can also be friends. Margaret has many acquaintances but none that she can discuss ‘marital matters’ with. When A Suitable Wife begins in January 1881, Fred and Will’s friendship has come under strain, mainly due to Fred’s erratic behaviour, and a dinner is arranged at number 30 Fitzwilliam Square, Will and Isobel’s new home.

While Will and Fred attempt to reconcile their differences over port after the meal, Isobel and Margaret retire to the drawing room. Knowing Isobel’s reputation as a fallen woman and assuming Isobel will understand and offer advice, Margaret seizes the opportunity to confess the strain her marriage is under. Margaret has been married to Fred long enough for her to realise that while he is the love of her life, Fred can only love her in his own way and that she alone will never be able to satisfy him. Margaret then admits she has given her husband her blessing to find sexual satisfaction with prostitutes.

Unfortunately, Margaret gets carried away and goes far too far. Isobel is already nervous because this is her first dinner party at number 30 and is uncomfortable at the conversation having turned to prostitution. When Margaret informs her that if she can’t be a good wife to Will, he is a very handsome man and there are many ladies in Dublin who would welcome him into their bed, Isobel can’t help herself and hits her.

Given her past, Isobel knows she can never be a true friend to anyone except Will, but can she and Margaret ever be simply acquaintances? If she and Margaret can’t get along, what hope is there for their husbands whose friendship and partnership at the Merrion Street Upper medical practice are on the brink of collapse. Is Isobel striking Margaret going to be the straw which breaks the camel’s back?

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.

FitzgeraldSeries_TWITTER

Read an excerpt from Chapter Two…

Isobel was in the drawing room by the time Will arrived home and his brown eyes widened as they took in her evening dress. It was new, short-sleeved, and deep red in colour. His eyes rested on her cleavage and she exhaled an exasperated sigh.

“It is cut too low, I knew it.”

“No. It’s stunning. You are stunning. Oh,” he added softly. “The condoms can’t arrive quickly enough.”

“Don’t mention the condoms,” she whispered. “I’m trying not to think about them. Go and get changed,” she said, giving him a gentle push.

The servants had worked hard and both the drawing room and dining room looked magnificent lit for the first time by the new gas lamps. Fires had been lit early in the morning and, despite it freezing sharply all day, both rooms were pleasantly warm as she made a circuit of them waiting for Will.

“Mrs Fitzgerald?” Will was standing in the drawing room doorway dressed in white tie and tails and she couldn’t help but stare. Would she ever get used to the fact that this handsome man was her husband? She hoped not. She never ever wanted to take him for granted. “Shall we do, do you think?” he asked with a grin.

She went to him and kissed his lips. “I think we shall do very well, Dr Fitzgerald. Ah.” She smiled, hearing voices on the stairs. “They’re here.”

Mary showed Margaret and Fred into the drawing room and Isobel kissed their cheeks.

“Thank you for coming. Come and sit by the fire, you must be frozen. Dinner will be served shortly.”

The three-course meal was delicious and, silently thanking Mrs Dillon for being such an excellent cook, Isobel got up from the table.

“It’s time to allow the doctors to have a chat,” she announced lightly and she and Margaret went into the drawing room. “Some more lemonade?” she asked Margaret as she walked to the drinks tray.

“Yes, please.”

“I think I’ll have some, too,” she added, reaching for the jug. “I don’t particularly like sherry and my mother always looks horrified when I ask for whiskey or brandy.”

“Don’t let me stop you.”

“Thank you, but I’d prefer lemonade.” She poured two glasses and passed one to Margaret. “Please, sit down.”

“Thank you.” Margaret chose the sofa and smoothed a hand down the bodice of her sky blue evening dress before resting it on her small belly. “This is a beautiful room.”

“Yes, it is,” Isobel replied as she sat down at the other end while glancing at the pale gold wallpaper and the sofa and two armchairs upholstered in burgundy silk satin. “Will and I really must use it more. Perhaps in the summer.”

“Isobel, while it is just the two of us, there is something I think you ought to know.”

“Oh?” she replied a little apprehensively.

“I know Will caught Fred with a prostitute in his surgery. In fact, I know Fred uses prostitutes regularly.”

Isobel had to consciously close her mouth. How on earth had Margaret found out? Surely Fred wouldn’t have been foolish enough to disclose to his wife of less than a year that he uses prostitutes? She took a sip of lemonade and put her glass down on a side table, not quite knowing how, or if she should respond.

“I have discussed the matter with Fred and he assures me he will be more discreet in future,” Margaret went on.

“In future?”

“I’ve known all along that Fred will not be faithful to me,” Margaret told her matter-of-factly. “My only stipulation during our discussion was that he use condoms with the prostitutes.”

“I see.”

“Oh, dear, I think I’ve shocked you, Isobel.”

It will take much more than that to shock me, she smiled wryly to herself. “No, not at all,” she said. “I’m glad you feel you can confide in me.”

“Thank you. I could never speak like this to my other friends but with you…”

“Being a fallen woman..?”

“I wasn’t going to put it quite like that.” Margaret put her glass beside Isobel’s. “But I have discovered I do enjoy sexual relations as well. However, I know I will never fully satisfy Fred. And I would rather we did not engage in sexual relations while I am pregnant,” she said, laying a hand on her belly again. “So he finds release elsewhere. With my blessing.”

“I must admit I could never give Will my blessing to—”

“You and Will are very lucky. You both love and satisfy each other.”

“Yes, we do.”

“But you cannot give him a child.”

Isobel tensed. “I will give him a child, Margaret.”

“I hope for your sake you are right, Isobel. Will is a very handsome man and I know for a fact that there are many ladies in Dublin who would welcome him into their bed and—” Margaret broke off and screamed as Isobel struck her hard on the cheek.

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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: EDITH WHARTON American writer 1862 1937: Pictorial Press Ltd / Alamy Stock Photo

Meet A Scarlet Woman’s Isobel Stevens

Lily Colourised

Isobel Stevens is twenty-two years old. She was born in County Galway, Ireland, the youngest of two children of the Reverend Edmund Stevens, a Church of Ireland (Anglican) clergyman, and his wife, Martha. Her parents’ marriage was an unhappy one. Reverend Stevens was a cruel and vindictive man who beat, not only his wife but his children, too.

Despite his cruelty, Reverend Stevens wanted what was best for his children. Both Isobel and her elder brother, Alfie, were well-educated. Alfie was sent to Harrow public school in London, England while at the age of twelve, Isobel was sent to Cheltenham Ladies College in Gloucestershire, England. With Isobel’s beauty and education, Reverend Stevens hoped to arrange a good marriage for her.

Unfortunately, this was not to be. Isobel was seduced by James Shawcross, a neighbour’s son, and she fell pregnant. James wouldn’t stand by her and Isobel was forced to tell her father about her pregnancy. Incensed, Reverend Stevens whipped Isobel and threw her out of the Glebe House.

Disgraced and disowned, Isobel pawned the jewellery she was wearing and travelled to Dublin not knowing what she was going to do. In Dublin, Isobel approached a girl standing outside the railway station and asked her if there was anywhere she could work in exchange for bed and board. The girl said yes, and brought Isobel to Sally Maher’s brothel on Montgomery Street in Monto, Dublin’s red-light district…

A_Scarlet_Woman_SQUARE-1

Dublin, Ireland, 1880. Tired of treating rich hypochondriacs, Dr Will Fitzgerald left his father’s medical practice and his home on Merrion Square to live and practise medicine in the Liberties. His parents were appalled and his fiancée broke off their engagement. But when Will spends a night in a brothel on the eve of his best friend’s wedding, little does he know that the scarred and disgraced young woman he meets there will alter the course of his life.

Isobel Stevens was schooled to be a lady, but a seduction put an end to all her father’s hopes for her. Disowned, she left Co Galway for Dublin and fell into prostitution. On the advice of a handsome young doctor, she leaves the brothel and enters domestic service. But can Isobel escape her past and adapt to life and the chance of love on Merrion Square? Or will she always be seen as a scarlet woman?

A_Scarlet_Woman_PRINT_2

Read an excerpt from Chapter One…

She woke feeling Will stirring beside her. His brown eyes stared blankly at her for a moment before he smiled.

“You remember me, then?” she asked, fighting an urge to explore his now heavy stubble with her fingers.

“Yes, I do. Good morning.” He rubbed his eyes. “Thank you for putting up with me last night. I don’t often drink to excess. I hope I didn’t pry too much and upset you.”

“It was nothing,” she lied, giving him as bright a smile as she could manage.

“I’d better go.” Throwing back the covers, he got out of the bed and went to the chair and door for his clothes. “Any sounds from the other bedrooms?” he asked as he got dressed.

“I don’t think they’ll be stirring for hours yet.”

“Well, I’m afraid Fred and Jerry need to stir right away. Fred’s getting married in—” He took out his pocket watch. “Three hours.” Putting his watch back in his waistcoat pocket, he went to the dressing table and bent in front of the mirror finger-combing his hair into place.

“Use my brush.” She pointed to it lying beside a bottle of overly sweet scented perfume.

“Thank you.” He reached for the brush, tidied his hair, then turned to face her. They observed each other for a couple of moments until she smiled self-consciously and pulled the bedcovers up to hide her breasts. “Why don’t you—” he began, then stopped abruptly and flushed.

“Find more suitable employment?” She shrugged. “I’m all but unemployable. I was schooled to be a lady.”

“But think of what you might catch here?”

“I am clean, Will,” she replied tightly. “You needn’t worry.”

He flushed even deeper. “You could go into domestic service?”

“Yes, I suppose I could.”

“I can only advise you to leave this brothel while you are still young and healthy.”

“Thank you, Doctor.” Getting out of the bed, she quickly put her robe on and went to the door. She lifted his hat down from the hook before opening the door for him. “Good morning to you.”

“Good morning.” Taking the hat from her, he went out. She closed the door, hearing him knocking loudly at the two other bedroom doors on the landing, ordering his friends out of bed and home at once.

Standing in front of the dressing table mirror, she opened her robe and surveyed herself. He was right. A few years of this and she would be as coarse as Lily down the landing and would probably have syphilis or herpes into the bargain as well. It was time to leave.

Pouring some cold water from the ewer into the bowl, she got washed and dressed, then pinned up her hair before going downstairs to the kitchen. Sally was seated at the table breaking her fast, seeming to thrive on as little sleep as possible.

“That tea in the pot is still hot,” Sally told her.

“Thank you.” Sitting down opposite Sally, she poured herself a cup and added milk, then cut a slice of soda bread.

“Your fella gone?”

She nodded as she buttered the bread. “Yes, he’s just left. He’s a doctor. All three are doctors.”

“We did well out o’ them. Hope they come back.”

“Yes. Mine was nice.”

Sally grunted. “So, what will you do with yourself today?”

She took a sip of tea. “I thought I might go into town and look at the shops. I haven’t done that for a while.”

“Do.” Sally nodded. “You deserve a day out. You’ve worked hard of late. Here.” Sally reached into the pocket of the white apron she was wearing over a gaudy yellow dress, lifted out some coins, and passed them to her. “Treat yourself to a bite to eat. But you didn’t get this from me, all right?”

She smiled, trying not to stare too much at Sally’s freshly dyed copper-coloured hair. “Thank you.”

“Finish that tea and bread and be off with you.”

In her bedroom, she counted the coins and dropped them into the small black leather handbag she had bought after seeing it for sale in a pawn shop window. Two shillings and sixpence ha’penny. Sally wasn’t usually so generous.

Donning her best dress – a navy blue relict from her pre-Dublin life with a square neck and buttons up the front – and a fashionable hat in matching navy blue she had purchased from a second-hand clothes stall, she walked to St Stephen’s Green. It was the last day of July and the trees of the park, newly opened to the general public, were lush with leaves of varying greens. They reminded her of Ballybeg but she blinked a few times to banish the memory. For now, she was going to find a spot in the sunshine, watch the ladies and gentlemen parading past, and mull over what she could possibly gain employment as.  

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Author: Lorna Peel

Title: A Scarlet Woman

Series: The Fitzgeralds of Dublin Book One

Genre: Victorian Historical Romance

Cover Designer: Rebecca K. Sterling, Sterling Design Studio

Ebook and Print Formatting: Polgarus Studio

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(Book Cover): LILLIE LANGTRY (1853-1929) UK socialite, actress and mistress of Edward VII in August 1885. Photo William Downey. Photo credit: Pictorial Press Ltd / Alamy Stock Photo
Gun Powder Office (Book Cover): Photo credit: National Library of Ireland on The Commons / No known copyright restrictions  
Billy Rose Theatre Division, The New York Public Library. “Lily Langtry, Photo File A” The New York Public Library Digital Collections. http://digitalcollections.nypl.org/items/510d47df-1081-a3d9-e040-e00a18064a99

Meet A Scarlet Woman’s Will Fitzgerald

Eugène Delacroix

Dr Will Fitzgerald is thirty years old. He was born and brought up at number 67 Merrion Square, Dublin and is the younger son of Dr John Fitzgerald and his wife, Sarah. Will’s elder brother, Edward, is a major in the British army and is serving in India.

Will studied medicine at Trinity College, Dublin with his best friends Fred Simpson and Jerry Hawley. He then joined his father’s prosperous medical practice but quickly grew tired of treating rich hypochondriacs. Will left the practice and set up his own medical practice in the Liberties area of Dublin, living in a gable-fronted Dutch Billy style house on Brown Street South.

When A Scarlet Woman opens, Will is nursing a broken heart and is expecting to be a poor and lonely bachelor doctor for the rest of his life. His fiancée, Cecilia Wilson, has ended their engagement. Will had agreed that after their marriage they would live at number 67 with his parents but he refused to stop practising medicine in the Liberties and rejoin his father’s practice. Cecilia did not want to be the wife of a doctor whose practice is in a poorer area so she married Clive Ashlinn, a rich barrister, instead.

On the eve of his wedding, Fred Simpson brings Will and Jerry to a brothel in Dublin’s red light district, known as Monto. Little does Will know as he reluctantly follows Fred and Jerry inside that the scarred and disgraced young woman he meets that night will alter the course of his life and he will soon put Cecilia well and truly behind him.

A_Scarlet_Woman_SQUARE-1

Dublin, Ireland, 1880. Tired of treating rich hypochondriacs, Dr Will Fitzgerald left his father’s medical practice and his home on Merrion Square to live and practise medicine in the Liberties. His parents were appalled and his fiancée broke off their engagement. But when Will spends a night in a brothel on the eve of his best friend’s wedding, little does he know that the scarred and disgraced young woman he meets there will alter the course of his life.

Isobel Stevens was schooled to be a lady, but a seduction put an end to all her father’s hopes for her. Disowned, she left Co Galway for Dublin and fell into prostitution. On the advice of a handsome young doctor, she leaves the brothel and enters domestic service. But can Isobel escape her past and adapt to life and the chance of love on Merrion Square? Or will she always be seen as a scarlet woman?

A_Scarlet_Woman_PRINT_2

Read an excerpt from Chapter Two…

Reaching Merrion Square, he found a gate to the gardens ajar. He hadn’t been in the gardens for months so he decided to make a circuit in the evening sunshine. About half way around, he stopped dead when he saw Cecilia seated on a bench with a book open on her lap. As if sensing she was no longer alone she turned.

“Will?” she said, in faint surprise.

He moved forward reluctantly, taking off his hat. “Mrs Ashlinn.”

“Please call me Cecilia.”

“I would rather not. I am due to dine with my parents, so if you would—”

“You hate me, don’t you, Will?” she interrupted.

“I wouldn’t describe it as hate – more of a disappointment in you for not having the decency to tell me in person that our engagement was over.”

She flushed. “I have hurt you deeply and I can only apologise. You will find someone worthy of you, I’m sure of it.”

“Someone who will be content with a husband whose medical practice is in the Liberties? I can only hope so. Please excuse me, Mrs Ashlinn.” He put on his hat and walked away from her, his heart thumping.

His mother took one look at his face as he was shown into the morning room and got up from the sofa. “Oh, no, you’ve seen Cecilia,” she said, putting a glass of sherry down on a side table then kissing his cheek.

“Whiskey, Will?” His father, dressed more like an undertaker than a doctor, in a black frock coat, trousers, and black cravat, was standing at the drinks tray in a corner of the room with a crystal decanter in his hand.

“Yes, please, Father,” he replied, before turning back to his mother. “I hadn’t been in the gardens for a while so when I saw an open gate, I decided to make a circuit. Unfortunately, she was sitting on one of the benches. She saw me before I could avoid her. Thank you.” He accepted a glass of whiskey from his father. “When are she and Clive moving?”

“Tomorrow,” his father replied.

“And I’ve ruined her last evening here. What a pity.”

“You weren’t too rude, were you?” his father asked as they sat down.

“No, just rude enough. Good health.” He raised his glass and drank, noting the dark circles under his father ’s eyes. Unlike his mother ’s hair, his father ’s hair was now all grey and turning white at the temples. “You look tired,” he commented, and his father ’s eyebrows rose and fell.

“I had a long night last night, Will,” he explained. “I was sitting with a patient who died just after four o’clock this morning. She was briefly your patient at the practice – Miss Harris.”

“Miss Harris…” Will tailed off and racked his brains. “Miss Harris – yes – good God – she must have been a great age.”

“Ninety-nine,” his father replied. “She put her longevity down to not being married, and she very much wanted to live to a hundred, but it wasn’t to be.”

“I’m sorry to hear she has passed away, I used to enjoy chatting with her,” he said as his father stifled a yawn. “Have an early night tonight, if you can,” he added, and his father nodded.

“You’ll meet someone worthy of you, Will,” his mother told him, and he fought to hide his irritation at her steering the conversation back to Cecilia.

“That’s what Cecilia said, Mother.”

“I hear Frederick and Margaret are back from London.” His father swiftly changed the subject. “I cannot believe Frederick is married now. It seems like only yesterday when the three of you were starting at Trinity College. How is Jerry, by the way?”

“Oh, the same as ever,” Will replied. “I showed him around Brown Street last week.”

“And?”

Will smiled. “He wished me good luck. He said he would find a spot for me on Harley Street if I was so inclined.”

“Except you are never going to be so inclined.”

“I’m not in it for the money, Father, how often—”

“I know,” his father interrupted. “I just don’t want to see you struggling in Brown Street in ten years time, no better off in any way than you are now.”

“You think I’m going to end up a poor and lonely old bachelor doctor, don’t you?” he asked.

“Your mother is not the only one who worries about you.”

“Edward has everything – army career – wife – and now a child. I have a medical practice in the Liberties and not even a fiancée anymore. Sorry about that, Father.”

“Will,” his mother warned. “Don’t.”

He peered down into his glass. “I’m sorry. Once Cecilia is gone from the square, and people stop commiserating with me, it will get better. I suppose it is getting better already. I faced her. I spoke to her. Not very civilly, I admit, but I did. Soon I’ll be wondering what I ever saw in her.”

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Amazon ASIN: B074LJJWJW

Paperback ISBN: 9781547079698

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

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Author: Lorna Peel

Title: A Scarlet Woman

Series: The Fitzgeralds of Dublin Book One

Genre: Victorian Historical Romance

Cover Designer: Rebecca K. Sterling, Sterling Design Studio

Ebook and Print Formatting: Polgarus Studio

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(Book Cover): LILLIE LANGTRY (1853-1929) UK socialite, actress and mistress of Edward VII in August 1885. Photo William Downey. Photo credit: Pictorial Press Ltd / Alamy Stock Photo
(Book Cover) Gun Powder Office (cover): Photo credit: National Library of Ireland on The Commons / No known copyright restrictions 
Eugène Delacroix – Portrait of Léon Riesener: Photo Credit: irinaraquel via Flickr.com / CC BY 4.0

Meet Brotherly Love’s Caitriona Brady

caitriona-sand-tint

Caitriona Brady is twenty-six years old and is the widow of John Brady, the Brady champion who was killed in a faction fight two years ago. Caitriona and John were brought together by a local matchmaker and Caitriona was eighteen when she left her home in Dunmore Parish, married John, and began a life in a cottage on fifteen acres of rented land on a mountain in the remote parish of Doon.

Caitriona and John had no children and, after John’s death, Caitriona nursed John’s elderly mother until Bridget died. Finally her own mistress, Caitriona wants to make the most of her new found freedom. She wants to choose a husband this time and not have the decision made for her.

Michael Warner is new to the parish, is the most handsome man she has ever seen – and he loves her. So why are there so many obscacles in the way of their courtship? The Brady faction see Caitriona’s love for the priest’s brother as a betrayal of her dead husband. Caitriona’s ‘betrayal’ is used to begin a number of faction fights and she is very much afraid that she will be responsible for someone’s death. John Brady has been dead for two years and the Brady faction won’t allow him to rest in peace. Can the Bradys be persuaded to change their name and Caitriona allowed to move on with her life?

Michael’s brother, Father Liam Warner, disapproves of their courtship, too. He views Caitriona as dangerous, even if she doesn’t realise it herself, and wants nothing more than for Caitriona to return home to her family in Dunmore Parish. It seems nothing will change his mind about the ‘damned Brady woman’.

Even Caitriona’s brother-in-law, Thady Brady, has reservations about the courtship. Thady gave Caitriona permission to look for another husband and approves of Michael Warner, but not enough is known about Doon Parish’s ‘mystery man’. Thady persuades Caitriona to allow him to do some digging into Michael’s background at an upcoming cattle fair. What Thady discovers shakes Caitriona’s world to the core.

Can there ever be a solution to seemingly insurmountable obstacles? Is there no hope for Caitriona and Michael? Find out in Brotherly Love.

Ireland, 1835. Faction fighting has left the parish of Doon divided between the followers of the Bradys and the Donnellans. Caitriona Brady is the widow of John, the Brady champion, killed two years ago. Matched with John aged eighteen, Caitriona didn’t love him and can’t mourn him. Now John’s mother is dead, too, and Caitriona is free to marry again.

Michael Warner is handsome, loves her, and he hasn’t allied himself with either faction. But what secret is he keeping from her? Is he too good to be true?

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Excerpt:

Caitriona saw the shock in Thady’s eyes when she opened the door to Mary and him. Even Mary was stunned into an unusual silence, taking in her eyes – red and swollen from crying – her limp and undone hair hanging over her face and neck, and her creased and unkempt dress. Mary glanced at the blanket hanging over the back of the chair by the hearth, evidence that she hadn’t slept in either bed the previous night.

“Have you both come to tell me how I’ve been betraying my dear husband’s memory?” she croaked, walking back into the kitchen. “You’re the first today so maybe I’ll listen to you.”

“Were you not listening to what I told you last week?” Thady demanded. “John’s dead, let him lie.”

“But they won’t,” she replied wearily. “They’ll never let him lie.”

“Wait, wait.” Mary held up her hands, clearly lost as to the jist of the conversation. “What did you tell her, Thady?” she demanded.

Thady sighed. “I told Caitriona that as it has been two years since John died, she was free to look for another husband.”

Mary’s eyes narrowed. “Well, it didn’t take you long, did it? The priest’s brother, no less. You went off into the woods with him, I was told. You went off with him into the woods in front of everyone.”

“You were told?” Caitriona retorted. “You weren’t even there, Mary. Don’t think you know what happened because you don’t.”

“All right.” Thady laid a comforting hand on her arm. “I know we weren’t there but we did talk to Father Warner and to Michael. Father Warner wasn’t very happy-looking.”

“What about Michael?”

“He didn’t say much but he looked shocked. There was an almighty fight going on.”

“Well, it shows that no-one listened to a word I said at the wake.” She shrugged helplessly. “I just don’t know what to do, Thady.”

“I have no objections to Michael Warner courting you, though, I’d say his brother does. The next pilgrimage is next month to Tobar Dhoun. I’m John’s brother, I don’t fight anymore, so how about I go and talk to Father Warner then, maybe, he can say something at Mass. Everyone will have to listen, then.”

“Do you think they will?” she asked in a small voice. “I don’t know.”

“We can only try.” Thady smiled at her, ignoring his wife who was rolling her eyes heavenwards. “I only want you to be happy and if Michael Warner’s the man…”

“He is,” she replied quietly. “If he hasn’t been frightened away.”

“Not at all, though, maybe you should be a little bit more careful in future. Michael Warner hasn’t lived in the parish very long, people don’t know him, and he’s refused to be dragged into the fighting. People don’t know what to make of him yet. Just be careful.”

“You’ll want something done before Tobar Dhoun,” Mary said shortly. “That fight yesterday was a disgrace. You’ll kill someone yet, you stupid girl.”

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Paperback ISBN: 9781541002692

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