Sunday, March 31, 2013

Typhoid Mary

"Fever: A Novel" by Mary Beth Keane is a novel based on the true story of Mary Mallon, otherwise known as Typhoid Mary.  I knew little about Typhoid Mary.  I had learned of it in school, so I knew she passed typhoid while cooking and was put in confinement.  Other than that, I didn't know much.  I did a little searching to find out what exactly typhoid was and what the deal was with Mary, so as to have some history of the novel.  Mary Mallon was an Irish immigrant who got her start as a laundress and advanced to a cook.  Though she seemed (according to the novel) able to cook for lower income people without passing typhoid, when she served more well-to-do people she quickly spread typhoid, infecting hundreds and even killing some.  This novel tells her story through her eyes of the saga of being investigating, arrested, and imprisoned.  She had no knowledge of germs or the passing of typhoid, especially when she had no symptoms at all. Most of the situation in the beginning was very confusing to Mary. However, after she was educated on her situation, and was released with the understanding she was not to cook professionally again, she changed her name and cooked anyway.

This is a really good book, it not only covers the typhoid investigation part of Mary's life, but her personal life  and romance with Alfred, a German immigrant and alcoholic.  Keane is a very good writer, whose characters draw the reader in.  There is no skipping in this book; the reader wants to read all of it and is genuinely invested in the characters. The book is told in a true to life manner. I recommend this book to anyone. I received this e-book for free in exchange for an honest review from the publisher, Scribner.

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