The Fever Tree
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The Fever Tree

3.62 of 5 stars 3.62  ·  rating details  ·  2,523 ratings  ·  562 reviews
Frances Irvine is born into a life of extreme privilege. When her father suddenly dies, disgraced by bankruptcy, she is left destitute and is forced to emigrate to South Africa and marry a young doctor fighting a small pox epidemic in the diamond mining territories.
Paperback, 346 pages
Published March 22nd 2012 by Viking (first published 2012)
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Seduction by M.J. RoseThe Aviator's Wife by Melanie BenjaminThe Firebird by Susanna KearsleyThe Midwife's Tale by Sam   ThomasTemple of a Thousand Faces by John Shors
Historical Fiction 2013
95th out of 576 books — 2,251 voters
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Man Booker Prize Eligible 2012
87th out of 152 books — 256 voters

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1.5 1880's South Africa provides an intriguing historical background. This would make a lovely costume drama, provided an actress could bring forth any admirable qualities in the heroine. I've rooted for flawed characters, or at least been curious about them, but Frances is impossible. She is self-absorbed, misreads every situation, puts no effort into improving/adapting to her surroundings, makes increasingly dumb decisions, and is otherwise dull & one-dimensional.

(view spoiler)...more
Lights! Camera! Action!

I read a book, but it felt like a film. An epic that should really be seen on a big, big screen.

The opening scenes are set in England in the later years of Queen Victoria’s reign. Frances had been a cherished only daughter but her father’s sudden death has left her destitute. And now she is faced with a stark choice; she could become a virtual servant in her aunts household, or she could accept a proposal from a man she doesn’t love.

Frances chooses marriage.

The next scenes...more
It's basically The Painted Veil, except Africa instead of China, small pox instead of cholera. And you get a little taste of the evil ways of the British Empire. It kept me reading until 2am two nights in a row, the writing was strong, the characters shifty--I just love when I don't know whom to trust, because that feeling just rings so wonderfully true to life. Not perfect, but fun historical fiction....
Rating Clarification: 1.5 Stars

Would have been an epic, awesome read in the hands of another author (M.M. Kaye comes immediately to mind). As it is, McVeigh managed to make what could have been a great story trite, with one-dimensional characters, a lackluster romance and an ending that the highly unlikable heroine didn't deserve.

Don't been swayed by comparisions to Gone with the Wind, The Painted Veil or Out of Africa. This isn't in the same league. Set your sights lower (and stick to a library...more
After her formerly-wealthy father dies penniless, Frances Irvine must travel from England to South Africa to marry a man she doesn't love. Adapting to life in a strange new country is demanding, particularly as her doctor husband is often absent due to his fight against a potential smallpox epidemic. Brought up in luxury, Frances must resign herself to life with little money and lots of hard work.

I'm a sucker for anything set in the Victorian period with a woman as the main protagonist, so was...more
Frances is difficult to like. Her character is flawed (which is great) but also flat, which makes the flaws hard to forgive and/or understand.

The story reminds me very much of The Painted Veil (the movie version) but, sadly, not as good. The writing tries too hard to be deep and evocative when, instead, it just feels forced.
Cora Linn
Won via Goodreads First Reads.

I wasn't sure what to think when I first started this book.

Frances did not appeal to me at all and she is the main character.

A couple chapters in I was frustrated by her - she opted for paints and an easel over essentials she was told she'd need for her new life. She couldn't understand Edwin's frustration at her when she arrived with no material, no sewing machine.

The whole ship journey got to me too - because this is where we meet William. William is a foul charac...more
Frances Irvine's father has passed away leaving her with many debts and little else, forced to choose between a life of certain unhappiness as a nurse to her aunt's five children or marriage to a man she dislikes, she chooses marriage and travels to South Africa where her fiancé, Dr. Edwin Matthews, is inoculating diamond mine workers against smallpox. Faced with a grim future in a loveless marriage in a brutal and foreign place, Frances struggles to adjust to her new life.

Frances's situation is...more
Hannah Fielding
The Fever Tree has been well received by critics and is being promoted as part of the UK’s prestigious Richard and Judy Book Club. I can see why! This is a beautifully written book – moving, compelling, engaging. It swept me away to the Africa of the nineteenth century, and while the romance elements are wonderful, this is so much more than a romance.

The author’s impeccable research and thoughtful, sensitive approach to the subject matter shines through to create a book that has, as the review...more
Sally Koslow
The setting of The Fever Tree is intriguing—South Africa during the late eighteenth century diamond mining bonanza. Jennifer McVeigh has done a splendid job of recreating this period, and is at her best in describing the landscape and wildlife of this rugged country, the sub-human conditions of mining and difficulty of farming in the period and medical details related to this eradication of smallpox. The book is worth reading for these elements, and the plot concludes with a tidy yet tear-produc...more
This is a historical romance - yep it is!!

Plenty of fallling in love with all the wrong people and angst and doubt and pride and prejudice!

However, behind all that is a rather beautiful story of the South African diamond mines. A doctor tries to assist the black labourers against a smallpox outbreak whilst the owners deny the presence of the disease in order to maximise profit. The young woman of the novel is swept out to the veldt from a privileged life in London. She has no idea how to live, b...more
You can read my whole review here: http://mysistersbookkeeper.blogspot.c...

To be honest. I almost abandoned this book 50 pages in. The beginning was not interesting and I also felt that there were parts missing. For example, in the first chapter, Frances' father is alive but in the second chapter, he's already been dead for a week or two. There wasn't enough emotion from Frances regarding her father's death and her dilemma of going to marry her distant cousin who lives in Africa or live with her...more
I know it's a good book when I'm thinking about it for days after.

It seems to have divided opinion however and I can see why. The beginning is very slow and a little far fetched at times, I couldn't identify with Frances at first and I was worried I'd made a mistake purchasing this. It was all very cliche, Daddy's little rich girl virgin daughter sets off to marry suitable doctor, a marriage of convenience rather than love (snore), we've all heard that story before.

But suddenly she sets sail as...more
I read this after hearing McVeigh read from it at the Penguin Bloggers Night, and chatting to her about it at the event. Heroine Frances is left with nothing after her father dies and has no choice but to emigrate to South Africa to marry her cousin Edwin, a doctor. On the eventful voyage she meets William - dashing, handsome, kind, rich, handsome... and is utterly taken with him. They share several illicit moments, but it all changes when they reach SA - real life hits.

Things go from bad to wor...more
Frances is a wealthy and spoiled young woman who is orphaned after her father loses all his money in a bad investment. After his death, she has to choose between an unwelcome marriage or becoming a nursemaid to her aunt's children. She chooses the marriage and leaves London and her former privileged life for marriage to her cousin, a poor, but principled doctor in South Africa. The idea is good, the setting is interesting. The historical aspects seem to have been fairly well researched. The writ...more
Susan Rappaport
This was one of those kind of books that I could not put down in the last one hundred pages. It made me cry towards the end. I was so involved with the character that I wanted to shake her and say don't do that. It is the story of a very young woman who is raised as the nearly top of British society until the age of about 19 when her only living parent, her father, dies leaving her a bankrupt estate with little to no choices in her life. Out of necessity she agrees to marry a young Irish doctor...more
Michelle (tinyturtle88)
I loved it. Jennifer McVeigh did such a wonderful job with her female protagonist. I was fully invested in her life, to the point where I was yelling at her through the book. The descriptions of Africa, from the cities to the diamond mines to the countryside were magnificent. I could picture everything. This book evoked a whole mess of emotions in me; from horror to glee, from relief to exasperation, and from happiness to a deep sadness. Recommend.
When I first saw the cover of The Fever Tree I was blown away and I have to say that each of the different are equally as stunning as this one which is the edition that I read. So I was so excited when this was selected for my book club's book of the month.

I love reading about South Africa so as soon as I saw this one I knew I had to read it. It isn't very common to find a lot of historical fiction set in South Africa so this one was a rare treat and shows that there are more and more authors a...more
Eileen Granfors
Fabulous historical fiction. Gone with the Wind + The Painted Veil + Heart of Darkness. More to come

Jennifer McVeigh brings to life the world of 1880s South Africa in "The Fever Tree." Not only is this historical fiction of the highest level, but she includes a love triangle and a struggling lady looking to do more with her life than serve tea.

The main character, Frances Irvine, reluctantly departs from England after her father's penurious death leaves her to choose between travel to a foreign l...more
In this riveting novel of colonial South Africa, the death of London born and bred Frances Irvine's father has left her penniless. With few options in England and too proud to be a burden on her family, Frances reluctantly accepts a marriage proposal from a man she has met only and few times, and in those times found distasteful. Accepting his proposal means moving to South Africa, where Edwin is a physician. During the journey across the sea, Frances loses her heart and her virginity to William...more
Susan Johnson
When a book advertises itself as the next "Gone With The Wind" or "Out of Africa", it's usually because it's very derivative. That is the case with this book. You're not going to get anything new from this novel. It begins by following the well trod path of the gently reared Victorian girl left penniless by the deaths of her hitherto wealthy father. Sound familiar yet? Hang on. On a voyage to a forced marriage in South Africa, the obligtory charming seducer puts in his appearance. This, of cours...more
MaryannC.Book Fiend
I needed to give this a proper review. I have to say that I totally enjoyed this book! Frances Irvine is a young woman with no means of surviving after her father dies. In act of desperation she marries a distant cousin Edwin, who means to be a doctor amongst the diamond fields in South Africa. With no choice she joins her husband there and finds that the brutality of life in South Africa is too much bear. Witnessing the poverty, cruelty and the greed of the diamond miners who will stop at nothi...more
Brett Hardman
I absolutely loved this book. I love experimental writing, and I'm happy with 'difficult' reads, but sometimes I really just want to be swept away by pure story, and The Fever Tree did that for me. When I back out and analyse it, I can happily say this book is beautifully and precisely written with great delicacy and a deft touch for detail, both in character and setting. But the most important thing about it for me was... the writing disappeared. It disappeared and I was in Africa. I can't reme...more
This book was slow to start but improved. It reminded me of a predicable romance. The book description of the area and the diamond mines were good. Sorry for the cruelty of animals. They were terrible. Amazing how greed makes people mean and happy to know that the good ones shine through.
W Blackwell
I was lucky enough to be advanced a copy of this highly readable book. I've always wondered how writers have the ability to weave together and achieve plot and a visual landscape. This first novel takes you into the heart of Kimberley and the diamond mines in South Africa through the eyes of a young woman. It's a powerful love story that leaves you feeling that there are redemptive qualities to life. And that through the eyes of writers, the research and travels of others, we can encapsulate som...more
Frances Irvine had no one except for her father after the death of her mother. Her father tried to do the best for Frances, even getting her a governess to teach her how to be a proper lady. However Frances had to figure out what to do with herself after her father's death. He made some bad decisions by putting his money into stocks for the railroads. It went bust and now Frances has nothing. Frances receives an marriage offer to Dr. Edwin Matthews. Frances does not love Edwin but it will get he...more
Jez Kogan
I totally loved this book. It is a completely gripping read and has you absorbed from start to finish. I read it in two days and literally could not put it down! Jennifer Mcveigh writes beautifully and I could almost feel the dust of the African plains in my eyes you follow the heroine Frances on this epic, heart wrenching journey in to Africa and everything it has in store for her. What an amazing first novel.
A wonderfully vivid book bringing to life the savage beauty of South Africa in the 1880's. It is a story of greed, deception and heartbreak and it is also the coming of age story of one woman who finds herself amid the barren and desolate landscape. A wonderful read, I totally recommend it to lovers of Historical fiction, and those who love a bit of heartbreak and redemption in their novels.
This book is well-written and researched, not always something you can count on with a first novel. McVeigh does a fantastic job of portraying the setting of South Africa as harsh, sometimes brutal, but also astoundingly beautiful. There's great character development here and a wonderful story. A truly enjoyable, satisfying read. Recommended.
This book just kept getting better and better, with so many twists and turns along the way. The author Jennifer Mcveigh has an MA in Creative Writing which is evident throughout the book. I think fans of Sarah Waters will also become a fan of Mcveigh. I will definately be looking out for this author in the future and recommending her to friends.
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The Book Travelers: June 2014 -- The Fever Tree, by Jennifer McVeigh 4 6 Jul 01, 2014 02:21PM  
edwin 2 15 Apr 02, 2014 01:39PM  
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I graduated from Oxford University in 2002, and went on to work in film, television, radio and publishing, before leaving my day job to do an MA in Creative Writing at Bath Spa University. I graduated in 2011 with a distinction. The Fever Tree is my first novel. I live in London with my husband and our young daughter, Alice.

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