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Editorial 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 Ratings

Overall

  • 4.1 out of 5.0
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Story

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A true story of fear of the unknown

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.

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Worth the hype!

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.

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Fever

I LOVED this book!It had me enthralled to the end.Candace Thaxtons narration was wonderful.Very interesting indeed.

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Like science? Read this novel.

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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LOVED LOVED LOVED

What did you love best about Fever?

I thoroughly enjoyed this book, it was excellent in every way. I'm not very familiar with the real case of Mary Mallon so I can't speak to the authenticity of historical accuracy, but it was very engaging and I found myself very immersed in Mary's world and historical New York.

What did you like best about this story?

It was captivating. It kept me glued to the "what will happen" feeling.

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

She did a wonderful Irish accent and perfectly captured the air of what I think the author thinks Mary was like.

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

Mary of course.

Any additional comments?

Excellent in so many ways, probably my favorite audio book yet. I loved it.

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  • Jacque
  • Lander, WY, United States
  • 11-17-15

Interesting take on historical figure

This was an interesting and informative read. Typhoid Mary is finally presented as flesh and blood and not mere cliche.

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A little-known story about a familiar name

The story about typhoid Mary gives us an interesting snapshot of the first couple decades of city life in New York for a carrier of the typhoid virus.The author gives a sense of Mary's somewhat early feminist self-confident unapologetic person hide. The character herself is clear about her ideas and her attitudes regarding how she is treated by the medical establishment, journalists, and the community at large. She feels that she is generally misunderstood, and that her dignity is disregarded and unappreciated by those who imagine that she is a disease ridden threat to the community.
By the end of the story it is clear that typhoid Mary finally perceives the reality did she actually is a danger to the community and that her home on the island in isolation is probably the best place for her to remain. Overall the book was well written and the audio performance was satisfying. Among the various audio books that I have listened which were historical fiction I would not recommend this as being most compelling or entertaining, however I didn't feel that the story was a waste of time.

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Great

Great. Beautifully imagined inner life of Mary Mallon. Enjoyed the tidbits of history woven through the story.

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Makes sense of the person Typhoid Mary

Would you listen to Fever again? Why?

Fever makes the story of "Typhoid Mary" realistic and also brings up the human rights and gender issues surrounding this case. I assume that the research on the story is true even if the conversations and details fictionalized. This would be a good historic novel for young adults to understand some of the medical discovery and human rights issues surrounding this story. This is a great story to understand the development of research on infectious diseases.

What was one of the most memorable moments of Fever?

The courtroom decision and the consequences for Mary.

Have you listened to any of Candace Thaxton’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

No have not listened to others

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

The Italian widow and her 2 sons allowing Mary to live with them.

Any additional comments?

Typhoid Mary is usually discussed as an infectious disease and epidemiology story. I had known none of the details of this woman and the consequences of discovery of carriers. There are important lessons that can be learned from this story.

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fascinating

I was engaged throughout. historical fiction at its best. I knew a bit of the story, but to hear it this way was wonderful. great performance as well.