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Fever: A Novel by Mary Beth Keane
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Fever: A Novel (original 2013; edition 2013)

by Mary Beth Keane

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
6195327,048 (3.74)42
"On the eve of the twentieth century, Mary Mallon emigrated from Ireland at age fifteen to make her way in New York City. Brave, headstrong, and dreaming of being a cook, she fought to climb up from the lowest rung of the domestic-service ladder. Canny and enterprising, she worked her way to the kitchen, and discovered in herself the true talent of a chef. Sought after by New York aristocracy, and with an independence rare for a woman of the time, she seemed to have achieved the life she'd aimed for when she arrived in Castle Garden. Then one determined "medical engineer" noticed that she left a trail of disease wherever she cooked, and identified her as an "asymptomatic carrier" of Typhoid Fever. With this seemingly preposterous theory, he made Mallon a hunted woman."--Dust jacket.… (more)
Member:rosie527
Title:Fever: A Novel
Authors:Mary Beth Keane
Info:Scribner (2013), Edition: 1st Edition, 1st Printing, Hardcover, 320 pages
Collections:EBooks, Read in 2013, Read but unowned, Favorites
Rating:*****
Tags:None

Work details

Fever: A Novel by Mary Beth Keane (2013)

  1. 10
    Away by Amy Bloom (BookshelfMonstrosity)
    BookshelfMonstrosity: These haunting, character-driven, and atmospheric historical fiction novels feature richly evocative accounts of immigrant life in early 20th-century America. Both novels feature complex, sympathetically drawn female protagonists who show stubborn, perhaps foolish determination amidst heartbreak and despair.… (more)
  2. 00
    As Bright as Heaven by Susan Meissner (Micheller7)
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» See also 42 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 53 (next | show all)
Historical fiction about Mary Mallon, aka Typhoid Mary. The author focused on Mary without having a lot of source information. The result is a lot of invention including a major character, Albert. In the book he is presented as Mary's life partner, alcoholic, and addict.
Questions about public health and public interest vs. personal freedom arise, but they are not dealt with in a fulsome manner. ( )
  tangledthread | Feb 25, 2020 |
The famous story of Mary Mallon, aka Typhoid Mary, has captured our attention over the past century. Some of the most intriguing questions that her story conjures up are: Did Mary realize that she was spreading this deadly disease as those around her kept succumbing to it, even though she herself never got sick? How would it feel to be unwittingly responsible for causing the deaths of so many people? Fever, by Mary Beth Keane is a historical novel that richly portrays Mary as an atypical woman for her time, providing insight into her mind as she struggles to understand her role in the epidemic. Keane provides the reader a peek into the bleak existence of a lower class immigrant living in the early 20th century. Her version of Mary is flawed in many ways-proud and defiant despite her position in society. Building upon the existing archival information about Mary’s capture and quarantine, Keane imagines how a woman in her position would need to steel herself in order to survive the infamy and guilt she might have felt. Did Mary experience denial when faced with the charges against her? Did she acknowledge her role and forgive herself for the tragedies left in her wake? Or, did she knowingly and maliciously spread Typhoid to the wealthy New York families she worked for? Although the pacing lags a bit in the middle of the book when Mary is first confined, Fever is a nice character study and provides a realistic vision of a sad and difficult period in our history. ( )
  jnmegan | Jul 31, 2018 |
This was a very interesting historical fiction novel. I had familiar with the name Typhoid Mary but didn't know anything about how she spread typhoid. So I learned something in an interesting way!
  sarahjvigen | Mar 23, 2017 |
This is quite a good, realistic historical fiction novel and navigates all the complexities of the "Typhoid Mary" situation well. I certainly recommend it if you have any interest in turn-of-the-last-century New York, the "Typhoid Mary" situation, the story of immigrants in the early 20th century, or anything else of that nature. ( )
  Caitlin70433 | Jun 6, 2016 |
This was a pretty interesting book about a subject i knew fairly little about... I recommend it to those looking to explore a dark part of history. ( )
  Shadowling | Jun 6, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 53 (next | show all)
Keane evokes the atmosphere of the bustling and booming New York of the time to life as she details both Mary’s day-to-day life and the work of “sanitation engineer” Dr. George Soper, who uses basic detective work and the scientific method to trace the infections back to her. It’s this “one-two punch” the makes the novel so compelling.
added by KelMunger | editLit/Rant, Kel Munger (Jun 11, 2013)
 
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Information from the Russian Common Knowledge. Edit to localize it to your language.
Epigraph
"Jesus Mercy"
--Mary Mallon's headstone
St. Raymond's Cemetery
Bronx, New York
Dedication
TO MARTY
First words
The day began with sour milk and got worse. (Prologue)
Mary wasn't arrested right away.
Quotations
Each day's new garbage got trampled underfoot by the crowds, and when the city sweepers came with their wispy brooms on Tuesday mornings it was like using a teaspoon to empty beaches of sand.
Last words
(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Wikipedia in English (1)

"On the eve of the twentieth century, Mary Mallon emigrated from Ireland at age fifteen to make her way in New York City. Brave, headstrong, and dreaming of being a cook, she fought to climb up from the lowest rung of the domestic-service ladder. Canny and enterprising, she worked her way to the kitchen, and discovered in herself the true talent of a chef. Sought after by New York aristocracy, and with an independence rare for a woman of the time, she seemed to have achieved the life she'd aimed for when she arrived in Castle Garden. Then one determined "medical engineer" noticed that she left a trail of disease wherever she cooked, and identified her as an "asymptomatic carrier" of Typhoid Fever. With this seemingly preposterous theory, he made Mallon a hunted woman."--Dust jacket.

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Book description
Mary Mallon was a brave, headstrong Irish immigrant woman who journeyed alone to America, 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". 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 to 1910. She was released under the condition that she never work as a cook again. Yet for Mary - spoiled by her former status and income and genuinely passionate about cooking - most domestic and factory jobs were abhorrent. She defied the edict.
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