Hello my reading friends! I am happy to join with Kym and Bonny today and tell you that the next book for Read With Us is Fever by Mary Beth Keane. I haven’t read it yet but I think it sounds terrific. Here, I’ll share the Good Reads summary with you:
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.
We picked this book for a number of reasons, carefully considering the length and availability from the library, as well as the subject matter and discussion topics and I think we have chosen well. As for the timeline, you have December and January to get this read and we will discuss it in February. You can expect us to mention it now and again before then but we are mindful that this is a busy time of year for everyone and we don’t want to overwhelm you with book stuff when you might not have the time to consider it.
I hope you’ll join us for part two of our online book club, it’s definitely a group effort and we need YOU to make this a success.