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As You Wish by Cary Elwes and Joe Layden
Fever

Fever

  • reading group guide
  • freshman reading
Fever casts a brilliant light over the life of a figure once described as 'the most dangerous woman in America'. Mary Mallon, an Irish immigrant in turn-of-the-century New York, is headstrong and brave, a woman who has battled fiercely to better her lot in life and keep her wayward lover Alfred on the straight and narrow. She works her way up the ranks to cook for the wealthiest families in Manhattan,
but leaves a trail of death and disease in her wake. When she is imprisoned in complete isolation, despite being perfectly healthy herself, she refuses to understand her paradoxical situation. Condemned by press and public alike, she is branded a murderer, but continues to fight for her freedom. Mary Beth Keane's fictional account is as fiercely compelling as Typhoid Mary herself and Keane presents us with a very cleverly wrought conundrum: was Mary Mallon a selfish monster, or was she a hounded innocent?
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  • Simon & Schuster UK | 
  • 400 pages | 
  • ISBN 9781471112966 | 
  • April 2013
List Price £12.99

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Reading Group Guide

This reading group guide for Fever includes an introduction, discussion questions, and ideas for enhancing your book clubThe suggested questions are intended to help your reading group find new and interesting angles and topics for your discussion. We hope that these ideas will enrich your conversation and increase your enjoyment of the book.


Introduction

Mary Mallon was a brave, headstrong Irish immigrant who journeyed alone to America. She began as a laundress, but with an innate talent for cooking, Mary ascended the domestic service ladder and worked as a cook for upper-class families. Unbeknownst to Mary, she left a trail of Typhoid fever and death in her wake. One “medical engineer,” proposing a new theory of “asymptomatic carriers,” traced the fever back to the woman we now know as “Typhoid Mary.” To prevent Mary from further spreading the disease, the New York Department of Health isolated her on North Brother Island for three years. A condition of her release was that she would never cook professionally again. But Mary’s passion for cooking, combined with the meager alternatives available to her, propelled her to defy the edict. In Fever, Mary Beth Keane brings early twentieth century New York City alive—the neighborhoods, the bars, the mansions, the factories, the rising skyscrapers and the perils of city life. Keane’s retelling of Typhoid Mary’s life tra see more

About the Author

Mary Beth Keane
Photograph by Nina Subin

Mary Beth Keane

Mary Beth Keane was born in New York City to Irish parents and grew up in Rockland County, New York. She attended Barnard College and the University of Virginia, where she received an M.F.A in Fiction. In 2011, she was named by Julia Glass to the National Book Foundation's '5 under 35'. She lives in Pearl River, New York with her husband and their two sons.

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