Book - 2014
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The "infectiously readable" ( Vanity Fair ) novel about the woman known as "Typhoid Mary," who becomes, "in Keane's assured hands…a sympathetic, complex, and even inspiring character" ( O, The Oprah Magazine ).

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 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.

The Department of Health sent Mallon to North Brother Island, where she was kept in isolation from 1907 to 1910, then released under the condition that she never work as a cook again. Yet for Mary--proud of her former status and passionate about cooking--the alternatives were abhorrent. She defied the edict.

Bringing early-twentieth-century New York alive--the neighborhoods, the bars, the park carved out of upper Manhattan, the boat traffic, the mansions and sweatshops and emerging skyscrapers-- Fever is an ambitious retelling of a forgotten life. In the imagination of Mary Beth Keane, Mary Mallon becomes a fiercely compelling, dramatic, vexing, sympathetic, uncompromising, and unforgettable heroine.
Publisher: New York ; Toronto : Scribner, 2014, c2013.
Edition: 1st Scribner trade pbk. ed. --
ISBN: 9781451693423
Characteristics: 306 p.


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Jan 29, 2015

An interesting read but I think the author was a tad more sympathetic to the character than she warranted.

Dec 22, 2014

This is a work of fiction, but based on the true story of Typhoid Mary. It imagines what circumstances may have dictated her fate. What if you had no symptoms whatsoever, but the government accused you of killing all of these people with a disease you've never been sick from? It is rather heartbreaking to think that she was the one that caused the death of the very people that she cared and cooked for. Excellent recommendation for students that need to read some historical fiction.

Dec 04, 2014

excellent historical fiction! About a young irish immigrant who unknowingly and unwillingly infected people with typhoid fever. Interesting view of New York in the early 20th century as well as the advances of science research in vaccines.
Very hard to close the book and say good bye to the heroine

Sep 20, 2013

very interesting and enlightening book. gives a great description of living in New York in the late 1800's. Also, a woman supporting herself in a career that she learned through hard work and talent was discriminated against by the NY Health Dept. No men were quarantined during this time even thought they were also carriers.

Jul 29, 2013

This was one of my top picks for 2013 - an absolutely riveting story of the life of "Typhoid Mary" - aka Mary Mallon. I could not put it down.

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