The Jealous Wall-A Working Title

Sneak Peek of my New Novel

These are some pics I took with my mobile phone camera last year when I visited my family in Ireland.

I’ve been writing this book on and off for the past four or five years. It’s purely fiction but I’ve woven in a story that really did happen in the eighteenth century close to my hometown. Again, I used elements of truth but fictionalised the historical part as well.

I was intrigued with the story and wondered what life must have been like in those times and what it must have been like for Mary Molesworth. It is said that after her husband died, she was released by her oldest son. She was found wandering the portrait gallery, muttering to herself and clearly having had her spirit broken. It was said she moved to France and spent her last few years in a convent.

Belvedere House and Gardens, on the shores of Lough Ennel outside Mullingar, County Westmeath, is a popular pace to visit and loved by tourists and locals.

When I was growing up, I remember hearing of The Jealous Wall, but I didn’t have much interest in history at that time. Since I left for Dublin when I was eighteen and began travelling a couple of years later, my mind was soon occupied with other things.

Something nudged me to write this novel and I let my imagination soar, although some facts are interwoven. I changed the location of Mary’s imprisonment to Belvedere and imagined the new present-day owner drawn to the house and soon suspect that it is haunted. There is a connection to Claire, the new owner, and Mary Molesworth. Claire has no idea why she was drawn to buy that house …

In the eighteenth century, the Earl of Rochford married a young woman, Mary Molesworth, a sixteen-year-old woman from Dublin. They lived in the nearby Gaulstown House. By all accounts, he was a despot, a man with a lot of power, and a wealthy land owner too. He suspected his wife, Mary, of having an affair with his brother, Arthur, and locked her up in Gaulstown House for most of her adult life. He commissioned the building of Belvedere House and Gardens. He moved in there and used it as his hunting lodge. Mary was kept under strict supervision and, by all accounts, was permitted to walk the grounds on occasion. She was always accompanied by one of the servants who would walk ahead of her, ringing a bell, lest her husband should be nearby. She did have four children with him, so I presume he insisted on his conjugal rights.

Here are a couple of excerpts of my novel. I hope to publish it by the end of January.

The first excerpt is the opening scene when the new owner of Belvedere is driving up to view the house she just bought:

My heart jumped like an unruly toddler as I drove my rental car through the wrought-iron gates on the way to sign the papers for Belvedere Manor. The house was hidden from the road and impossible to see behind the tall hedges. The mixed hedges of rhododendron, laurel, hawthorn, forsythia and evergreens were attractive in their haphazardness. This was no graveyard wall of monotonous trees. I wondered what was behind them.   

When I turned the corner, I caught my first glimpse of the grey, imposing house with its tiered terraced steps. It offered spectacular views onto the surrounding fields, the woodlands and the lake. I caught glimpses of silvery ribbons of the lake through the trees. 

The Second Excerpt is from the book the new owner found wrapped with care in a shed on the grounds. It is the story of Mary Molesworth. She has no idea who wrote it.

Mary’s eyes welled up with tears. ‘But why didn’t they tell me this earlier? Why didn’t they stop me?’  

The older woman sighed and wiped the corner of her mouth with her napkin. ‘They care for you deeply, you must know that. Your mother cannot travel at this time. She said your father is getting worse and cannot be left alone. They truly thought you would be safer here in Westmeath, but they have become alarmed at some rumours of the Earl’s reputation. They did what they thought best at the time, but you must be aware of how much power your husband holds in this country.’

An involuntary shiver ran down Mary’s back. ‘I would not do anything that goes against my father’s wishes.’ She buried her head in her hands and her body shook with paroxysms of emotion. The older woman reached over to Mary and held her hand. ‘It is not too late to rectify this, dear. You’ll feel better once you visit with your parents. Together we’ll decide what to do.’ She sighed. ‘Sometimes we have to choose the lesser of two evils.’