2023 FAPA Award Winner
This is a tale of two men—Thomas McDonnell, master carpenter and stonemason; and Harold Marston Fitch, heir to the title Viscount of Dermont in the County of Meath—“rebels abroad” who take radically different paths on two different continents. Both are strong-willed men separated by class, politics and religion—inextricably linked by Brigid, Thomas’s fifteen-year-old daughter, Harold’s secret lover. In 1739-1740, Ireland is stricken by a severe cold wave known to history as the “The Great Frost.” Evicted from their cottage, Thomas and Brigid seek lodgings in Dublin. As famine and riots rage, the McDonnells embark on a voyage to the American colony of Maryland. The Atlantic crossing is dangerous, complicated by war with Spain and the onset of hurricane season. Tragedy and hardship beset the family, forcing Thomas to become an indentured servant. He must adjust to his new life on a Maryland tobacco plantation, living among slaves and observing the institution of slavery close up. Harold’s drinking and debauchery lead to expulsion from Dermont Manor and enlistment in the Inniskilling Dragoons, an adventure that weaponizes his already-frightening tendencies. From daring anti-smuggling raids on the Lincolnshire coast to the wild underworld of Georgian London, and finally to the battlefields of the Holy Roman Empire, Harold ascends in rank and becomes a top-rate soldier. At the same time he descends gradually into the world of the psychopath. A true narcissist, con-artist, liar and manipulator, Harold grows more sinister. Driven by impulsivity, feelings of entitlement and superiority, promiscuity and other forms of self-gratification, he seizes upon opportunities which bring him even more success. But he is compelled to expose a dark family secret and to find those who betrayed him. Passion and violence collide in a drama of epic proportions.