A compelling portrait of colonial South Africa as well as the life of women near the turn of the century.
South Africa, 1880 - a country torn apart by greed. Frances Irvine, destitute in the wake of her father's sudden death, is forced to abandon her life of wealth and privilege in London and emigrate to the Cape. In this remote and inhospitable land, she becomes entangled with two very different men: one driven by ambition, the other by his ideals.
Only when the rumour of a smallpox epidemic takes her into the dark heart of the diamond mines does Frances see her path to happiness. But this is a ruthless world of greed and exploitation, where the spoils of the rich come at a terrible human cost, and powerful men will go to any lengths to keep the mines in operation.
©2012 Jennifer McVeigh (P)2012 Audible Ltd
“The Fever Tree is a skilled unfolding of a woman's struggle with desire, class divide and disease in 19th Century South Africa... the journey, like the landscape, is thrillingly huge: one of love, self-knowledge, human and political self-respect. Frances treads out every step - a naive and intriguing character who brings alive a momentous - and appalling - part of history.” (Financial Times)
"There is nothing more exciting than a new writer with a genuine voice. I loved it." (Julian Fellowes, creator of Downton Abbey)
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"A darker/hidden Victorian England/African Diamonds"
I enjoyed this book and although others disliked I enjoyed the narration.
Life as a woman in Victorian England was very restricted and they were governed by men as in this story Frances's male relatives. Thus choices made as a result were not ones freedom of choice would have brought. Having said that I think the character of Frances is such that she would not have moved and subsequently developed as a person had they not been so.
The journey starts in England and moves to South Africa and to the reality of what life was like for the diamond miners at the time.
I found the story interesting and also to see Frances change and develop. The two men in her life are very different characters and I enjoyed getting to know both.
The book is about choices Frances made some not so wholesome and some more so. I enjoyed reading about the Smallpox epidemic and looked up Smallpox as a result learning alot.
I enjoyed the book overall and if you wish a historically interesting read I would recommend it.
"One of my top 10 excellent"
What a fantastic book. It grabbed my full attention from the beginning and then I could not wait to hear the whole story.
"Good tale, well narrated"
I tend to prefer a male narrator but have to say that Haariet Kershaw does an excellent job with this story. The story itself is not unique, but the setting in South Africa with some of the historical details and descriptions of the hardship endured by all but the most wealthy was interesting. The main character is a little frustrating .. you sometimes feel she has reaped what she has sowed, but all in all well worth a listen.
"The Fever Tree"
Excellent audible read, very clear reader and a very enjoyable book. This was recommended by a friend who read it on her kindle, but I was very happy to have it via audible. Thank you
A really good read,didn't want it to end. The story is enthraling as it was difficult to guess how it would all pan out & I learnt a few historic things as well. This is such a good book,I can't recommend it enough.
"Excellent and Gripping Story, a poor narrator."
The story is very gripping, but the narrator gabbles too fast all the way through. There is no light or shade in her narration. Her attempts at South African / Afrikaans dutch accents is excruciatingly awful, nor can she pronounce South African name places or words. Shame that the narrator lets this excellent book down.
I was sceptical about this book. I liked the sound of the blurb, seemed like the kind of book I would normally enjoy with some historical content, travel and interesting women but the reviews got me worried. However, the book was quick to get into, enjoyed the characters and interesting back drop of Victorian South Africa. Understand what people mean about the story not being as strong as perhaps it could have been however, overall, a really enjoyable easy listen.
"Dust and degradation for English Rose in SA Mines"
The Narrator had a very clear voice that was pleasant to listen to.She changed her tone and accent for the different characters and that made it easy to follow. The observant descriptions made me feel like I was there, in England, on the boat and in South Africa.
I learnt allot about some history and lifestyles that I hadn't known much about.
I particularly found the smallpox information interesting and loved the descriptions of the flora and fauna and hardship of he veldt.
Mariella, She was so real and vibrant, ready to take on the world.
The sounds of the characters and the environment.
Definately, I listened to it on a long car journey and then kept listening through the night when I arrived!!!.
I would love to listen to more of Jennifer and Harriets Work
Listening was an act of perseverance. I kept waiting for the heroine to get her act together. Nearly gave up several times.
The locations were beautifully described, but the main character was incredibly frustrating and so difficult to like. She took far too long to get her act together.
Yes I would go to see it.
Somehow, aside from wanting to shake the main character, I am drawn to this book and will probably listen again. And moan again.
"A very enjoyable listen"
cinematic, historical, interesting
The narration was easy flowing and easy to listen to, except Harriet's pronunciation of some basic South African words, mainly velt (pronounced felt) and kopje, grated on me, Frances might have been English but I'm fairly sure she wouldn't have mispronounced these basic, commonly used words which are not said as they are written. Her South African accent was passable so it's a real shame that she didn't research some of these few words as their correct pronunciation would have made her performance great as overall the narration made the character come alive.
I picked this book because of the South African setting, having lived there for many years I have fond memories of the velt and the diversity of the people. Jennifer McVeigh has portrayed this, the incredibly harsh beauty of the landscape and the intensity of the weather and people, very well.
This book is also historically fascinating, it depicts the lives not only of the immigrants , the Boers and the locals of that time period but also the history of the diamond mining in Kimberley which shaped South Africa and it's people. Knowing some of the local history already I was keen to confirm and get a better understanding of the period that this book is set in and after some research I stumbled upon the following
where I read that 'Joseph Baier' was indeed based on Cecil Rhodes as I suspected. The story itself seems to be based on the diaries of a young doctor which Jennifer McVeigh found in the British Library and even though this book is work of fiction, much of the back story seems to be based on well researched history.
I found the characters likeable, but at times frustrating. Frances's character seems to encompass the naivety I would imagine in a young woman of the era, the desires that sway her and the mistakes she makes are believable.
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