“Mary Beth Keane is one of those gifted young writers who helps me believe — still! — in the power of literature.”



Isn’t it strange that you find a book totally heartbreaking, but it fills you with so many emotions that you want to share it with others? That is why I write about ” Fever”, a novel by  American writer Mary Beth Keane, based on the true story of Mary Mallon, who emigrated from Ireland at the end of the 19th century, in the hope of a better life in New York.

Mary, known as ” Typhoid Mary”, is a strong, courageous and hard-working young woman, with a talent for cooking. She gradually becomes a cook for the wealthy families of New York. She also falls in love with Alfred, her only true loveand  they live together though unmarried.

What could be the beginning of a ” success story” turns into a tragedy, as Mary  is a healthy carrier of typhoid fever, which kills many of the members of these families, mothers, children and babies. And Alfred is a lost soul, drinking all her money and miserable with depression.

When the authorities identify her, Mary is sent to North Brother Island for  further medical examinations, and will stay there for three years, fighting for freedom. When at last she is released, Alfred has gone to another woman, and she is no longer allowed to work as a cook.

Alfred comes back to her, more miserable than ever, and once again she has to fight to find jobs. But there is no alternative for her and she accepts to cook for a hospital under a false identity. But death strikes back…
It is a very strong novel, powerful picture of New York as well, and the portrait of a woman who never stops fighting…but who has no way to escape tragedy. I really loved it, and am sure some of you will love it too.


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Added 9th June 2016