What I was expecting was to be informed and perhaps educated a little about "Typhoid Mary". What I got was a totally satisfying and thoroughly enjoyable work of historical fiction.
As a wanna-be writer, I am totally jealous of Keane's work. I would love to spend a few hours with her to compare notes and hear first-hand how she came to write such a wonderful novel. As a person who spends about three hours of research for every hour of writing, I totally appreciate what she has accomplished.
I truly enjoyed this novel about Mary Mallon, better known as Typhoid Mary. I didn't know much about Mary before reading this book and I found it fascinating on many levels - Mary's life in NYC in the late 1800s and early 1900s, her inability to understand that she was a healthy "carrier" of a potentially deadly illness and the way the medical community dealt with outbreaks of illness in a time before vaccines and antibiotics. All of it fascinating. The narrator was easy to listen to and did a decent job with Mary's brogue. An enjoyable read.
I really enjoyed this book, I am not sure how historically accurate it is but I really don't care. It was a great look into the possible perspective into the thought process that Mary may have had. I actually like the storyline of Alfred and Mary, I like that it was about Mary's life not just typhoid fever.
The story shows a historical perspective on how women were treated, how immigrants were treated and also gives perspective into the immigrants in the lower east side how they lived and the struggles they faced daily.
It was interesting to think about how disease can be passed unwittingly from a carrier, how the government dealt with it then vs. how they deal with it now.
It also has a storyline highlighting addiction and how it not only effects the addict but the people who care about the addict.
All in all a very good and interesting read. I highly recommend it.
I enjoyed every bit of this book! The narrator does a fabulous job with Mary's accent and defining all the characters! I really recommend this book!
I haven’t written a book review in awhile but felt compelled to write this one. I enjoyed Mary Beth Keane’s the Walking People and once I heard the subject matter for this book, I was sold. A historic trial? A medical mystery? I couldn’t have picked a novel I more wanted to read.
I hope that is not a spoiler to note that Mary Mallon was the first well known ‘healthy’ carrier of Typhoid Fever. She was asymptomatic and since little was known about how sickness spread, it was hard for people to recognize the health risk she posed. She was a cook and though out breaks of Typhoid seemed to follow her wherever she was employed; she refused to believe she could be the source of the fever. Even after she was confronted with the possibility that she was spreading the fever. She refused to cooperate. She continued to cook until she was arrested and deatined. She wasn’t released for two years and only after agreeing not to cook. Despite all this, she cooks again. Changes her name and continues to cook until she is recaptured.
Enter Keane to deliver an entirely unexpected novelization of her life. The tendency to sort of side with Mary and vilify her treatment and compare it with others (non-working class males who may have received much better treatment) and conclude Mary was treated unfairly. Or try and convince readers that Mary’s recklessness led to unnecessary deaths even after the danger she posed to others was explained to her. Keane does something else. She seems to take both sides-- rallying a little for Mary and then highlighting her unsafe obstinacy. So the reader is both frustrated with and sympathetic towards, Mary.
Keane once again plays with time beginning somewhere in the middle of Mary’s story and then hopping all around throughout her life similar to her The Walking People narrative. Maybe more successfully this time, but I am still unsure why authors belabor this technique when a simple straightforward arc would serve.
What is known about Mary seems to all be spot on, but Keane adds a lot too. For instance additional deaths, a fabricated alcoholic live in lover, and a backstory are all provided. I’m torn too to what this all adds. A historical novelization works best for me when it holds as closely to the truth as possible. However these additive also provide period detail to further set Mary’s drama.
I am beginning to realize it sounds as if I am conflicted about the book which I am not. I highly recommend it for any historical fiction fans. Mary’s story horrified me, disgusted me, and baffled me in turns. I was genuinely engaged in Mary’s story from the very first through the last page.
And though the narrator slips in and out of an Irish accent inexplicably, she otherwise does a good job.
This book has ruined me for for all the historical fiction novels I have yet to read. It set the bar so high, I feel that whenever I compare another historical fiction novel to this, I cannot help but be disappointed. I bought this on Audible to listen to while I ran on the treadmill. It made my time fly by because it actually felt like I was watching a movie.
Thank you Mary Beth Keane for coming up with the brilliant idea to write about Typhoid Mary.
Absolutely recommend. A+
I thoroughly enjoyed this book, it was excellent in every way. I'm not very familiar with the real case of Mary Mallon so I can't speak to the authenticity of historical accuracy, but it was very engaging and I found myself very immersed in Mary's world and historical New York.
It was captivating. It kept me glued to the "what will happen" feeling.
She did a wonderful Irish accent and perfectly captured the air of what I think the author thinks Mary was like.
Mary of course.
Excellent in so many ways, probably my favorite audio book yet. I loved it.
This was an interesting and informative read. Typhoid Mary is finally presented as flesh and blood and not mere cliche.
The story about typhoid Mary gives us an interesting snapshot of the first couple decades of city life in New York for a carrier of the typhoid virus.The author gives a sense of Mary's somewhat early feminist self-confident unapologetic person hide. The character herself is clear about her ideas and her attitudes regarding how she is treated by the medical establishment, journalists, and the community at large. She feels that she is generally misunderstood, and that her dignity is disregarded and unappreciated by those who imagine that she is a disease ridden threat to the community.
By the end of the story it is clear that typhoid Mary finally perceives the reality did she actually is a danger to the community and that her home on the island in isolation is probably the best place for her to remain. Overall the book was well written and the audio performance was satisfying. Among the various audio books that I have listened which were historical fiction I would not recommend this as being most compelling or entertaining, however I didn't feel that the story was a waste of time.