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Fever: A Novel | [Mary Beth Keane]

Fever: A Novel

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.
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Audible Editor Reviews

Editors Select, March 2013 - Was Mary Mallon just a scapegoat? A victim of a paranoid society willing to vilify and discard a poor, Irish immigrant and domestic worker based solely on shoddy science and sensationalism? Fever tells the story as “Typhoid Mary” may have told it herself. Through her eyes we get an insider’s view of early 20th Century New York City and of the perfect storm she was swept up in. Not a meek, unsophisticated victim at all, Mary is a woman ahead of her time in many ways: unmarried by choice, a bread winner, a skilled cook and a fighter. She does not simply accept her diagnosis, and by questioning the science behind the accusations she adds pressure on the doctors to better understand the spread of disease, and on the legal system to address issues of public health and civil liberties. This is historical fiction at its best. —Tricia, Audible Editor

Publisher's Summary

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

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

4.0 (473 )
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4.3 (431 )
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Performance
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  •  
    Mary Hirsch Denver, CO 07-01-15
    Mary Hirsch Denver, CO 07-01-15 Member Since 2014
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    39
    7
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    Story
    "Found this a powerful story, beautifully narrated"

    I don't know which was more mesmerizing, Mary Mallon's perceptions of her own life as woven by Mary Beth Keane, or Candace Thaxton's lovely and insightful narration. Vivid historical detail helps the reader enter Mary's life as a working class immigrant with no financial or social safety net, burdened by a public accusation she did not understand or accept. A grim and troubling portrait of the times and one courageous but flawed woman.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    2ndyrnursingstudent San Antonio, TX 06-30-15
    2ndyrnursingstudent San Antonio, TX 06-30-15 Member Since 2013
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    "Engaging; American history & love story"

    Insightful look into the world of immigrants in the early 1900s, I love how it is told from Mary's perspective, feels realistic and you understand what she was likely thinking. The story helps to bring this interesting part of medical history to Into your own frame of reference. Ultimately a tale of human experience and one woman's success, grief, love and unfortunate fate as an outcast of society. Also fantastic narration with the different accents, Irish, German, Italian and so on.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Dana 06-30-15
    Dana 06-30-15 Member Since 2015
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    "Good historical fiction"

    Interesting story, interesting characters. Sadly, another narrator that does not seek advice about the pronunciation of medical/scientific terms.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    E. Turner Nevis, West Indies 06-29-15
    E. Turner Nevis, West Indies 06-29-15 Member Since 2014
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    "Could not stop."

    It just gets weirder with each twist.
    Epilogue is like a voice from the past.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Nancy L. Collins 06-27-15

    Nancy Collins

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    "Great story. Good performance."

    I love historical fiction. I did research on Typhoid Mary while listening to this book. It was in step with Fever so not sure I should classify it with fiction. I highly recommend Fever.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Fit & trim 50 Washington State 04-07-15
    Fit & trim 50 Washington State 04-07-15

    Sharon Delaney

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    "Romantic storyline dragged on. And on... "

    I wanted to learn the history behind Typhoid Mary. While this was a theme, the author chose to make Mary's doomed affair with her loser boyfriend the primary focus of the book. What a pointless relationship. Why bother? The story could have been told in half the time it was redundant and, at tines, tedious.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    judy 03-08-14
    judy 03-08-14
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Stubborn Typhoid Mary"
    What did you love best about Fever?

    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.


    What was one of the most memorable moments of Fever?

    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.


    What about Candace Thaxton’s performance did you like?

    Very good! Really enjoyed her various accents. Each character was well represented.


    If you could take any character from Fever out to dinner, who would it be and why?

    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.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Amazon Customer 02-16-14
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    3
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    "Typhoid Mary"
    Would you consider the audio edition of Fever to be better than the print version?

    Candace Thaxton did a fantastic job with the accents of the characters. It added interest to the story.


    What did you like best about this 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.


    What does Candace Thaxton bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

    She brought out Mary's frustration with the men in her life. Alfred and her employers could be difficult.


    Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

    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.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Denis A. 11-12-13
    Denis A. 11-12-13 Listener Since 2007
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    "Great story, and awesome narration"
    If you could sum up Fever in three words, what would they be?

    Research well done


    What other book might you compare Fever to and why?

    It is hard to compare Fever to another book as it is uniquely its own story.


    Which character – as performed by Candace Thaxton – was your favorite?

    Anna Firth


    Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

    Anna Firth killing the pig and distributing it to her neighbors.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    WiseGirl Maryland 10-25-13
    WiseGirl Maryland 10-25-13

    Patti

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    "A Little Slow"

    Interesting story, but it tended to drag. Enjoyed the historical descriptions of this time period.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

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