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The Fever Tree

3.68  ·  Rating details ·  5,635 ratings  ·  892 reviews
Frances Irvine, left destitute in the wake of her father’s sudden death, has been forced to abandon her life of wealth and privilege in London and emigrate to the Southern Cape of Africa. 1880 South Africa is a country torn apart by greed. In this remote and inhospitable land she becomes entangled with two very different men—one driven by ambition, the other by his ideals. ...more
Paperback, 448 pages
Published February 4th 2014 by G.P. Putnam's Sons (first published 2012)
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3.68  · 
Rating details
 ·  5,635 ratings  ·  892 reviews

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The Fever Tree is a compelling portrait of colonial South Africa, its raw beauty and deprivation alive in equal measure. But above all it is a love story about how—just when we need it most—fear can blind us to the truth.

"In London she was caged by society. In South Africa, she is dangerously free."


This is by far one of the most intriguing, evocative, and thrilling historical fictional tales I have ever read about the British colonial past in South Africa. Admittedly, I
Jun 12, 2013 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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)
May 06, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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....
Mar 29, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Connie G
The inspiration for "The Fever Tree", set in colonial South Africa in the 1880s, was a medical scandal involving an actual outbreak of smallpox in the diamond mines. For corrupt economic reasons, the news of the epidemic was hushed up and thousands died.

The story begins in England as Frances Irvine's father is dying, leaving a mountain of debts. Frances, raised in a wealthy family, could play the piano and paint, but did not have any income-generating skills. She had two choices--become a nurse
Jun 21, 2013 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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
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
Cora Tea Party Princess
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
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.
26 SEP 2016 - Wish me luck. This book has been described as a combination of Out of Africa (Yes!) mixed with Gone With The Wind (No!). I detest Gone With The Wind. So, I am hoping for a lot of Out of Africa and absolutely no Gone With The Wind.

30 SEP 2016 - Dear Frances, Please put on your big-girl panties and deal with the cards life has dealt you. A not-for-me book.
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
Sep 17, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Ok, so this is just going to be more of a thought dump, filled with spoilers so readers beware.

This book kept being compared to The Painted Veil, which I loved so I was really excited. And for a long time I was convinced it was almost exactly like The Painted Veil (maybe even too much?) Frances is forced to marry a doctor (Edwin) who works in a exotic, unknown location where there is an epidemic he is working to eradicate. In this case it was South Africa. Meanwhile Frances is in love with anot
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
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
Jan 11, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Diane S ☔
Feb 11, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
3.5 Set in the latter part of Queen Victoria's reign, this is the story of Francis a young woman ill equipped to handle the circumstances in which she finds herself. I actually found this part of the story rather cliched, and although I had some sympathy for her I found the decisions she made irritating. The historical aspects of this novel I loved knowing so little about this before I started reading. South Africa in its Colonial period, the diamond mines, Kimberly and Cape Town, the Boers and ...more
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
Apr 13, 2013 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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
Apr 28, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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
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
Apr 17, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jun 13, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Elizabeth of Silver's Reviews

Beautiful, powerful, mesmerizing....

From England to South Africa. From wealth to poverty. From being happy and content to being unhappy and resentful.

Frances had no choice but to move to South Africa after her father died. She was left with nothing and definitely didn't want to live with her aunt to be a nursemaid or to be treated like help instead of family. She had to accept Edwin's proposal. Things happened in between her marriage to Edwin, though, that made her second guess her decision to m
Hannah Fielding
Jan 15, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Susan Rappaport
Apr 06, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Carol (Reading Ladies)
Francis is an unlikeable, self absorbed, and spoiled main character as she navigates the bleakness of her life ..... Although Edwin is a bit insensitive and consumed by his own ambitions, I think I would have liked to have heard some of the story from Edwin’s perspective. Francis does eventually mature but the real impact of the story is in the sense of place the author creates for the readers of the African landscape and life. Throughout the story, themes of class distinctions and the plight of ...more
Dinah Jefferies
I actually started reading this wonderful novel on holiday in Sri Lanka. The Fever Tree would make a fantastic film as not only is it beautifully written, it's also extremely visual. I can already see it on the big screen. The African scenes in particular are stunning and very moving. You could smell Africa, taste it, and certainly feel it. The pace is terrific, and there's lots of tension.

I have re-read The Fever Tree and on a second read I actually enjoyed it even more. So much of how we feel
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.
May 11, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
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The Book Travelers: June 2014 -- The Fever Tree, by Jennifer McVeigh 4 9 Jul 01, 2014 02:21PM  
edwin 2 23 Apr 02, 2014 01:39PM  

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I graduated from Oxford University in 2002, and went on to work in film and publishing before leaving my day job to do an MA in Creative Writing at Bath Spa University. The Fever Tree was a Richard & Judy Bookclub Pick. My second novel, Leopard at the Door, will be published by Penguin in 2017. I live in London with my husband and our three young children.

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