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 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!
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 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.
ELLE aka PlantCrone of the Great Pacific Northwest. I enjoy almost every genre-S/F, Action, Biographies and Histories & Romance
I just heard the word "Faction"-a mix of fact and fiction and it's made for books such as "Fever". Any casual reading of fact resources (i.e.:Wickipedia) make no mention of a man in 'Thyphoid Mary's' history, yet much of the 'fiction' aspect of 'Fever' revolves around Alfred, supposedly Mary's lover for many years and his issues with substance abuse.
I can understand the author adding a bit of romance interest to what might have been a dry book. And a reader can understand that a writer has to make up dialogue where none is recorded. The factual information about Mary herself is interesting and nicely written, however. I have to agree with other reviewers who have stated that author Keane goes astray when she writes on about Alfred, Mary's supposed lover, especially his trip to Minnesota - this is pure fiction which is presented as fact.
In any case, I found this a quick listen and very informative. Mary had an unfortunate life and in todays era it's difficult to understand how she was treated-isolated for years on an island in the river outside NYC.
If you're in the medical profession, or even if you enjoy historical fiction, which is how this should be presented, "Fever" is a good book for you.
Narrator Candace Thaxton did a good job with the varied accents but they were more modern than what one might hear in the early 1900's-still if the listener can overlook these issues, the book is informative and enjoyable.
Well worth the credit.
very interesting but sad story in the history of medical science. I particularly liked that the background of Mary's friends was included as well. Today you could substitute the name AIDS and the fear and questions would be the same.
Reading is the cheapest ticket to a journey in another place and time. Where you can observe peoples deepest thoughts and aspirations.
When this book came out there was tons of hype over how fantastically written and narrated it was, so I immediately purchases it. Then I was distracted by other books. Now I'm kicking myself that I didn't listen to this book earlier! Like a siren Thaxton's voice will soothe you as Keane takes you on a fast paced read about person that you really wouldn't know a lot about . Often throughout the book Mary is a sympathetic character trying to scrape out a life for her self, with Little regard for other people's lives. She is a hard working woman with great determination and hustle for life, but at the cost of many other people who come into contact with her cooking. I will never double dip or use the same spoon twice while cooking.
I am at that half a century mark in years. I enjoy audiobooks,cats,rats and most days my family,not necessarily in that order!lol
I LOVED this book!It had me enthralled to the end.Candace Thaxtons narration was wonderful.Very interesting indeed.
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+
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