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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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