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Fever

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3.65 of 5 stars 3.65  ·  rating details  ·  4,263 ratings  ·  811 reviews
Mary Beth Keane, named one of the 5 Under 35 by the National Book Foundation, has written a spectacularly bold and intriguing novel about the woman known as “Typhoid Mary,” the first person in America identified as a healthy carrier of Typhoid Fever.

On the eve of the twentieth century, Mary Mallon emigrated from Ireland at age fifteen to make her way...more
Hardcover, 306 pages
Published March 12th 2013 by Scribner (first published 2013)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Will Byrnes
UPDATED - 8/8/13 - see link at bottom

Before you start reading let’s see those hands. Both sides please. You call that clean? Are you kidding me? I’ve seen cleaner hands in mud wrestling. Try using soap this time, and I don’t want to see anything but skin under those fingernails. Go ahead. I’ll wait. (A very large foot tap, tap, taps. Eyes rise to scan the ceiling. A puff of exasperation is emitted…waiting) Let’s see. Both sides. All right. I guess that will have to do. Sit down. Go ahead.
In th...more
Chrissie
The start is superb! Candace Thaxton does the narration of the audiobook. Her tone perfectly expresses how Typhoid Mary views what is happening to her, both the amazement and incredulity of that which she is accused of and horror as loved ones die. Could she be the cause of others' deaths when she is so healthy herself?!

And now, on completion, I have to say that I enjoyed every minute spent listening. I loved Mary's Irish brogue and the details of life in NYC at the turn of the century - even t...more
Shelleyrae at Book'd Out

Fever is a fascinating novel that mixes historical fact and a fictional narrative to tell the tale of 'Typhoid Mary', the woman held responsible for several deadly outbreaks of the disease in the US around the turn of the nineteenth century.

In 1907, Mary Mallon was arrested at the direction of the Department of Health. A forty year old, unmarried, Irish immigrant cook she stood accused of spreading Typhoid, a bacterial disease transmitted by the ingestion of food or water contaminated with the...more
Sabrina


Was Mary Mallone (Typhoid Mary) a killer or a victim? I will admit that there were times throughout this novel that I found myself wanting to strangle her and at other times I wanted to be her advocate and friend. I really admired her strong work ethic and fierce independence while questioning her cleanliness in the kitchen (double dipping...double yuck!).

Any novel that evokes these kinds of mixed emotions from me gets high marks (stars). Well done!
Erin
Find the enhanced version of this and other reviews at: http://flashlightcommentary.blogspot....

It wasn't my intention to start in on New York history, but it appears I'm on a little bit of a kick. Between Ellen Horan's 31 Bond Street and now Mary Beth Keane's Fever, I am getting quite the education. The latter is of course the topic of this review and fair warning, I'm going to analyze content here so if that is going to bother you, abandon this review while you can.

The Big Apple really comes...more
LG
“Typhoid Mary” has intrigued me ever since I learned about her, so I was glad to discover this book. Unfortunately, the most deadly thing about it is the story. Life isn’t always drama and suspense, of course, but a reader expects more from a fictionalized biography. Perhaps the story would have been better told as non-fiction, à la Henrietta Lacks. Or, if the people who dealt with Mallon were as fascinated by her as we still are, this is probably one of those extremely rare stories better told...more
Orsolya
Typhoid Mary. Whether one views her as victim or villain, her story is an amazing one. Although admitting to taking historical liberties, Mary Beth Keane portrays Mary Mallon’s emotional point of view in “Fever”.

“Fever” isn’t a traditional bio-fiction novel, as it doesn’t follow Mary’s life from beginning to end but rather jumps right into the action of her being accused of carrying and spreading Typhoid, her subsequent “lock up” at a hospital, and her court trial.

Initially, the novel is somewh...more
Allie

I read this title because I'm fascinated with tales of diseases, how they spread, and the human stories behind them. I didn't really know anything about Mary Mallon going in, other than that she gave a lot of people typhoid and people who come to work with the flu or pinkeye are likely to get called "Typhoid Mary." But I was hooked by the first few pages and soon was reading this book while brushing my teeth, drying my hair, even while sitting in traffic waiting for a train to pass. The setting...more
Diane
March is Women's History Month and St. Patrick's Day is celebrated on March 17th, and Mary Beth Keane's novel Fever, a fictional story about the infamous Typhoid Mary, an Irish immigrant who was blamed for the deaths of over twenty people from typhoid in New York City in the early years of the twentieth century is a perfect read for both.

Keane did a great deal of research on Mary Mallon, an Irish immigrant who became a cook for wealthy families in New York City. Her website contains an amazing t...more
Philip Fierlinger
I love historic novels and this is easily one of the best I've read.

In many ways it's a page turning mystery thriller - but not at all in the typical sense. It's a ride through time, but goes deeper into the personal habits, daily routines and the inner psyche than most historic novels - not in a sinister way which is more common for this genre, but in a way that's sympathetic to the people swept up in circumstances of the day.

It's told in a deeply familiar, personal, strong inner voice about...more
Ruth Turner

A compelling blend of fact and fiction that creates an unforgettable story.

I didn't particularly like Mary. I thought her stuck up and heartless; lacking in remorse for the sickness and deaths she caused.

I skimmed through the chapters about Alfred in the aftermath of his accident. He was an unlikeable character and I had no interest in, or sympathy for, his battles with alcoholism and drug dependency.

Not liking the two main characters in no way affected my enjoyment of the book, however. It was...more
Maureen Timerman
Reading about Mary Mallon, you feel the injustice that was done to her. Yet, if it were my child or relative that died, I certainly would feel differently.
She was stripped of her life, literally, and put on an island in the Hudson River, North Brother Island. Left with very little contact, to the outside world. How could they do that to her? Written up in the press as Germ Lady, Typhoid Mary. Yet a dairyman who also is a carrier of the germ, is allowed to stay at home. He killed over a hundred...more
Rose Ann
So interesting! Highly recommend!

I remember vaguely hearing of 'Typhoid Mary', but never really knew her story.

Mary Beth Keane does an amazing job of combining fact and fiction, bringing Mary Mallon's story to life. I was a little nervous that the facts wouldn't be there, but they were.

I was fascinated by the story of Mary Mallon. Her life on North Brother Island, in NYC, where she was quarantined until her death in 1938.

I had never even realized such an island existed. I researched it a bit mo...more
Carrie
Jun 21, 2013 Carrie rated it 2 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: people who are patient
Recommended to Carrie by: Potsdam Library New Book Shelf
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Lorca Damon
One of the genres that is gaining popularity and attention is the fictionalized biography, a novel retelling of the information that history does actually remember about notable people and events. In Fever (Simon & Schuster), Mary Beth Keane has done a heart-wrenching job of completely humanizing one of the names that history doesn’t always remember fondly: Typhoid Mary.

Mary Mallon, an Irish immigrant who worked her way up through domestic service to the coveted position of cook to some of t...more
Elizabeth S.
Mary Beth Keane paints the portrait of Mary Mallon in an amazing, heart-wrenching story that delivers her life and struggles in a graceful flow of words that will captivate your very soul and open your eyes to another side of this negatively plagued "Typhoid Mary," as she was called.

Mary Mallon was a brave young woman when she left her home in Ireland to seek a new life in America. New York was far from what she imagined. It was filthy with horse manure, trash, and the stench of decay, but she...more
Sarah
To me, this novel was a perfect example of what historical fiction at its best can do. The story of Mary Mallon, a.k.a. Typhoid Mary, is a fascinating one. Mallon, an Irish cook, was identified as an asymptomatic carrier of typhoid in 1890s New York. She was taken away from life as she knew it and imprisoned on a tiny island in the East River, despite the fact that there were other typhoid carriers and no hard proof that she'd infected anyone. Released several years later on condition she wouldn...more
Cyn
This book was a very different perspective on a well known event and presented another side of Mary Mallon, a woman vilified even today as Typhoid Mary. It took something that is seemingly black and white, the fact that Mary Mallon went back to cooking after she was explicitly told that she could not and it was the manner in which she was transmitting Typhoid and colored it with a new angle. The book is predicated on the idea that Mary simply could not/did not believe that she could be transmitt...more
Diane S.
Well written, Mary's life was definitely well researched but I think I expected a wider view from this novel. It really does mainly center on just Mary's life and not on the medical research or overall typhoid picture in any detail. In our present day, she probably would have not been arrested and treated as she did and I did feel sorry for her in places. She had such a hard time grasping that she could ever be a carrier without being sick herself. She was not a very likable figure and unfortuna...more
MaryannC.Book Fiend
As another reader mentioned, this was definitely fascinating. Never knew too much about Mary Mallon except that she was a notorious spreader of The Typhoid. In this novel Mary also had a life filled with dreams, expectations, love and determination. I thought it was a compelling read, especially the way her trial played out.
Denis A.
Awesome, awesome book! Kind of surprised that I grew to like this read so much but I saw myself siding with Mary Mallon and her antics. Felt sorry for her at times, but surprisingly she doesn't ever feel sorry for herself despite the tragic figure she becomes.

5 stars all the way.
Jody  Julian
I didn't know a thing about "Typhoid Mary" except for the nickname, which seemed self-explanatory. In other words, the complex, Irish immigrant named Mary Mallon didn't exist under that moniker for me until I read this fascinating, compulsively readable piece of historical fiction that chronicles the spread of Typhoid in New York City in the early 1900's. Mary Mallon came from Ireland to the United States on her own at age fifteen and was determined to make a life for herself despite the odds ag...more
Cher
3.5 stars - It was really good.

Very well written historical fiction novel based on the life of Typhoid Mary, who was the first person found to be a carrier of Typhoid fever, immune herself to the disease. The book reads easily with a nice pace and never gets bogged down with too much clinical or historical detail.

It's hard to imagine a healthy and robust person being forcibly quarantined, sacrificing their own freedom and quality of life in an effort to protect others. Is it ethically just? The...more
Sarah
Ahh, my first adult novel to be held in my hands since ending my Printz committee reading...It was delicious!

You've heard of Typhoid Mary, right? Well, this is her story--it was new to me! Mary is sent to America to find work like many other Irish. She worked as a laundress, but her true calling was to be a cook. And she was a good one, until she was accused of being a carrier of typhoid. Turns out that she infected 23 people, yet she didn't really notice. The city of New York imprisons her on N...more
Jane
Where I got the book: from the LibraryThing Early Reviewer program.

This is the story of Mary Mallon, aka the Typhoid Mary who was accused of willfully passing typhoid to New York families for whom she cooked in the early decades of the 1900s. It's a set-the-record-straight story, told essentially from Mary's point of view, and therefore sympathetic to her.

Pretty interesting story, on the whole. Keane tries to encapsulate Mary's character in the account, and that in fact made it a bit harder for...more
MissSusie
We have all heard of Typhoid Mary, but do any of us really know her story I know I didn’t. This is historical fiction so I’m sure liberties were taken in the telling of the story but that did not in any way stop this from being a fascinating read. Mary is an Irish immigrant, a cook and lives with a man without being married to him, so even before the Dept. of health comes for her she has a few strikes against her, it being the very early 1900’s. The author not only tells us about Mary but also g...more
Nancy Kennedy
Most often, I find nonfiction a more compelling way to read about history than historical fiction. It is certainly the case with this novel centered around the infamous "Typhoid Mary." The book held my attention when it addressed the science behind Mary Mallon, a healthy carrier of the deadly Typhoid fever who transmitted the disease through her occupation as a cook. I also enjoyed the courtroom drama associated with the New York Department of Health's defense of the way they addressed the healt...more
Jenny
Dec 26, 2012 Jenny rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommended to Jenny by: Greg
Shelves: 2012-challenge
Top-notch historical fiction. I had heard the phrase "Typhoid Mary," of course, but didn't know its origin. This is a marvelous, sympathetic portrait of Mary herself, an Irish immigrant to New York who loves to cook; it is her livelihood and her calling. Yet, she is a carrier of typhoid, and the government captures and quarantines her, without much in the way of due process. After three years in captivity on North Brother island, she is released, thanks to the help of a lawyer, but only on the c...more
Pamfrommd
I loved this book. It had everything I like: history about early 20th century NYC, a great story, complex characters, and solid, vivid writing. Maybe the best thing about reading it was the discussion I got into on Amazon reviews. One person gave the book a 2-star review and complained that the story wasn't fully consistent with the real life of Mary. I (politely) disagreed with the reviewer, and this started a long discussion thread about historical fiction -- what is it, how much liberty shoul...more
Jacki Leach
Beautifully realized novel based on the notorious case of Mary Mallon, a.k.a. 'Typhoid Mary'. Based on deep research, Mary was an Irish immigrant who had a talent for cooking...and spreading typhoid. Known as a 'asymptomatic carrier', she was found and held in quarantine at North Brother Island in New York.

This novel delves into Mary's private life; her life-long love affair with her partner, Alfred, her desire to rise above her status, and her talent for cooking, all of which became her undoing...more
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Mary Beth Keane graduated from Barnard College and The University of Virginia, where she received an MFA in Fiction. Her first novel, The Walking People (2009) was a finalist for the PEN/Hemingway Award for a first novel, and her second novel, Fever (2013) was named a best book of 2013 by NPR Books, Library Journal, and The San Francisco Chronicle. In 2011 she was named to the National Book Founda...more
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