January - Discussion of Fever by Mary Beth Keane

  • January 27, 2014 · 7:00 PM
  • Private

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.

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  • Galina

    Thanks for your kindness. Alyson , recipes will be soon. Difficulties of translation, sorry.

    January 29, 2014

  • Nisha

    Hey I'm working tonight so I won't be able to make it! Have a great night and see you next month!

    January 27, 2014

    • Alyson

      Sorry to have missed you. I hope to see you next time.

      January 28, 2014

  • Kristen

    I accidentally double-booked myself and have a work event tomorrow night. Have a great time and I'll see you ladies next time!

    January 26, 2014

    • Alyson

      Sorry we missed you! Hopefully I will see you tonight.

      January 28, 2014

  • Julie

    Sorry...turns out I can't make it too. Enjoyed the book. Fascinating story. Sad to miss the discussion. Have fun!

    January 26, 2014

    • Alyson

      We missed your perspective!

      January 28, 2014

  • Linda

    I had surgery on Wednesday and I think I was overly optimistic when I RSVP'd my attendance. Enjoy the evening and see you in February!

    January 26, 2014

    • Alyson

      I hope your recovery is going well! I look forward to seeing you soon.

      January 28, 2014

  • Alyson

    Fabulous treats last night. I can't wait to get the recipes! Thank you Galina!

    January 28, 2014

  • Lisa C.

    Great discussion and treats last night! Thanks for hosting Galina!

    January 28, 2014

  • Galina

    Dear Alyson, if you have not got a place for the next meeting yet I can host it if it is on January, 27. You can contact me by cell phone,text just in case if this chart plays wrong.Best wishes. Galina.

    January 7, 2014

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