• by Mary Beth Keane
  • Narrated by Candace Thaxton
  • 9 hrs and 53 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

A bold, mesmerizing novel about the woman known as "Typhoid Mary", the first known healthy carrier of typhoid fever in the early 20th century - by an award-winning writer chosen as one of "5 Under 35" by the National Book Foundation.
Mary Mallon was a courageous, headstrong Irish immigrant woman who bravely came to America alone, fought hard to climb up from the lowest rung of the domestic service ladder, and discovered in herself an uncanny, and coveted, talent for cooking. Working in the kitchens of the upper class, she left a trail of disease in her wake, until one enterprising and ruthless "medical engineer" proposed the inconceivable notion of the "asymptomatic carrier" - and from then on Mary Mallon was a hunted woman.
In order to keep New York's citizens safe from Mallon, the Department of Health sent her to North Brother Island where she was kept in isolation from 1907-1910. She was released under the condition that she never work as a cook again. Yet for Mary - spoiled by her status and income and genuinely passionate about cooking - most domestic and factory jobs were heinous. She defied the edict.
Bringing early 20th-century New York alive - the neighborhoods, the bars, the park being carved out of upper Manhattan, the emerging skyscrapers, the boat traffic - Fever is as fiercely compelling asTyphoid Mary herself, an ambitious retelling of a forgotten life. In the hands of Mary Beth Keane, Mary Mallon becomes an extraordinarily dramatic, vexing, sympathetic, uncompromising, and unforgettable character.


Audible Editor Reviews

Editors Select, March 2013 - Was Mary Mallon just a scapegoat? A victim of a paranoid society willing to vilify and discard a poor, Irish immigrant and domestic worker based solely on shoddy science and sensationalism? Fever tells the story as “Typhoid Mary” may have told it herself. Through her eyes we get an insider’s view of early 20th Century New York City and of the perfect storm she was swept up in. Not a meek, unsophisticated victim at all, Mary is a woman ahead of her time in many ways: unmarried by choice, a bread winner, a skilled cook and a fighter. She does not simply accept her diagnosis, and by questioning the science behind the accusations she adds pressure on the doctors to better understand the spread of disease, and on the legal system to address issues of public health and civil liberties. This is historical fiction at its best. —Tricia, Audible Editor


See More Like This

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

NOT Historical But Is Fiction

This is indeed an interesting and well-written piece of fiction. However, even the most cursory dip into the available information on the real "Typhoid Mary" and you'll be shocked at how little of this book is based or even near the actual story. In fact, it's so far from Mary's story that I must drop stars because it pretends to be historical fiction.

Reading the other reviews really gave me a chill in that people believe they are reading history. The author borrowed a name and used a story as a backdrop to create a piece of fiction. It's disappointing. She could have called this Gonorrhea Sally and it would have been equally accurate.

So yes, the author can write an engaging story. It's a novel. But when a story is so far from reality I think it is inappropriate to use actual names. There is just too much distortion. The story would have been as good under a totally different name and then would not be guilty of gross manipulation of history.

By the way, the real story is better.

Read the book and enjoy it but don't think you're reading an historical novel. Even the language is wrong for the time.
Read full review

- Chris Reich "Business Physicist and Astronomer"

Walk a mile in my shoes...

The story of Typhoid Mary haunts our collective memory, from the time before vaccinations, antibiotics, or any understanding of the microscopic world. This was an era when disease seemed to descend out of nowhere and the only treatments available were cold baths, cold clothes and fervent prayers. So, a healthy carrier - an infectious person with no signs of the illness themselves - became the stuff of nightmares.

Instead of taking the perspective of the victims, however, Fever is told from Mary Mallon's point of view. I admit, I was skeptical because I've known how terrifying it is to watch a child get sicker and sicker and the true impotence of doctors in the face of the unknown. But I got drawn into her story. I believed the voice taking me step by step through Mary's decisions, even after she should have known better...

I'm wondering if the line between historical and fiction is getting too blurry, because I had to keep reminding myself this was fiction. But that's my only caveat. Recommend.
Read full review

- Margaret

Book Details

  • Release Date: 03-12-2013
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster Audio