By Mary Beth Keene
In writing this review let me begin by saying that I love historical fiction because I believe it allows us to learn about history while at the same time adding our own ideas about what may or may not have gone through people’s minds during a certain time period. It allows an author to bring history to life with his or her own imagination. At the same time, the author is challenged to do thorough research of events known. It isn’t easy writing.
With the story of Mary Mallon we have quite a few facts. Her factual story is well-documented and has been studied in scientific circles for a long time. The term Typhoid Mary is known even outside scientific circles. Right away I liked the premise of Mary Beth Keane’s book Fever. She has sought to create a story about a woman from history who was in a sense demonized for her behavior and has sought to create a story that humanizes her actions.
Some readers will walk away after reading Fever and still despise Mary Mallon, but I think the majority will feel the sympathy that Keane is attempting to inspire. She is a woman who makes poor choices, who is blind to the evidence in front of her, but who is also just trying to make ends meet and survive.
I would give Fever 5 stars, but it seems to be faulty on some of the factual information in regard to Soper and how Mary was arrested. Apparently Mary was also pretty clear that she didn’t wash her hands. The data about her gallbladder was also inaccurate. In fact, her gallbladder was the source of typhoid and it was proven by autopsy after she died.