A bold, mesmerizing novel about the woman known as "Typhoid Mary", the first known healthy carrier of typhoid fever in the early 20th century - by an award-winning writer chosen as one of "5 Under 35" by the National Book Foundation.
Mary Mallon was a courageous, headstrong Irish immigrant woman who bravely came to America alone, fought hard to climb up from the lowest rung of the domestic service ladder, and discovered in herself an uncanny, and coveted, talent for cooking. Working in the kitchens of the upper class, she left a trail of disease in her wake, until one enterprising and ruthless "medical engineer" proposed the inconceivable notion of the "asymptomatic carrier" - and from then on Mary Mallon was a hunted woman.
In order to keep New York's citizens safe from Mallon, the Department of Health sent her to North Brother Island where she was kept in isolation from 1907-1910. She was released under the condition that she never work as a cook again. Yet for Mary - spoiled by her status and income and genuinely passionate about cooking - most domestic and factory jobs were heinous. She defied the edict.
Bringing early 20th-century New York alive - the neighborhoods, the bars, the park being carved out of upper Manhattan, the emerging skyscrapers, the boat traffic - Fever is as fiercely compelling asTyphoid Mary herself, an ambitious retelling of a forgotten life. In the hands of Mary Beth Keane, Mary Mallon becomes an extraordinarily dramatic, vexing, sympathetic, uncompromising, and unforgettable character.
©2013 Mary Beth Keane (P)2013 Simon & Schuster Audio
The historical points of this topic (typhoid fever) interests me both as a nurse and as a person. But there was little history here. The fiction part was barely of interest. I can only imagine the horror of a young immigrant girl being accused of causing death wherever she went. And then to be quarantined for years with no legal recourse!! How frightening and frustrating! But the author chooses to dwell on Alfred at length ...why? Narration was excellent.
I thought the author did a good job of portraying what Mary thought of the claim by the public health officer that she was a carrier of Typhoid. She was stubborn and in denial about it. Yet at the same time I felt sorry for her.
I was shocked at her complete denial of her part in putting people at risk. The description of her cooking at a bakery and in the hospital, tasting food and such was scary.
Very good! Really enjoyed her various accents. Each character was well represented.
I would like to take Mary out to dinner. I would like to hear what she understood about Typhoid and what she had been told by the health authorities and doctors. I would like to give her other examples of people with the same problem and some positive coping examples.
Candace Thaxton did a fantastic job with the accents of the characters. It added interest to the story.
I didn't know anything about Mary Mallon going into this story. She was a stubborn Irishwoman who didn't believe that she could be healthy and still infect people. For the most part I did not like her. However, the things done to her were not nice either. The turn of the 20th century was a hard time for foreigners with few available jobs and places to live. Mary tried hard to better herself in terrible circumstances. Then she was forced to live in the asylum for years without knowing what could become of her.
She brought out Mary's frustration with the men in her life. Alfred and her employers could be difficult.
Much of the story made me angry. The doctors inability to make Mary understand that she was a danger was irritating. But Mary's stubbornness about her impact on others was my main issue. She went so far as to change her name and sneak into jobs in order to defy what she was told, but didn't believe. I am glad that she questioned her role in making people sick. I just wish she had acted on it.
This was very interesting and thought provoking. I love books that teach me while giving me a story to digest. Well written -- Mary is thoroughly believable as the character that she must have been, as is the man who is essentially her common law husband. Can you imagine being told that you are a disease carrier, so many have died because of you, and in a time when many didn't have much training, told that you can't do your job, the special job you are good at? Can you imagine being basically imprisoned without a trial? Can you imagine wondering, but not being really convinced, that you were responsible for many, many deaths? This book helped me really imagine all of that.
Oh and the narrator, with her Irish defensive accent, was all that! Sounded perfect.
Research well done
It is hard to compare Fever to another book as it is uniquely its own story.
Anna Firth killing the pig and distributing it to her neighbors.
Interesting story, but it tended to drag. Enjoyed the historical descriptions of this time period.
Keane offers a sympathetic portrayal of Mary Mallon, better known as Typhoid Mary. The story portrays early 20th Century New York and several important historical events seen through Mary's eyes.
Mary's long-term relationship was probably total fiction, but it helped to provide a narrative that allowed the author to string together the events in Mary's life. I think I would have liked this fictional Mary better than the historical Mary.
Say something about yourself!
I did enjoy the book and thought the concept was amazing. I really enjoyed hearing what NYC was like back then and what it was like for Mary. However, it was not an easy listen. It was tedious in some places. I think it could've been shorter...
I bought this book mainly due to the large number of positive reviews, and the fact that it has some medical history in it, which I enjoy reading about. My main problem with this book is that the characters were totally unlikeable, particularly Mary. I had to force myself to finish it because I didn't want to waste my credit.
Retired reading, English, & math teacher. Survivor of rear-ending on Channel 5 bridge in Florida Keys that resulted in 10 day coma&rehab,
Mary liked being a cook, but then people started getting sick. She thought it was unfair to isolate her for a time. The novel covers what she lived like, where, and what her relationships were. Well-researched and written. Seems like it could be accurate as possible.
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