The Fever Tree

Jennifer McVeigh, Author
Jennifer McVeigh. Putnam/Amy Einhorn, $25.95 (432p) ISBN 978-0-399-15824-7
Ebook - 352 pages - 978-0-670-92091-4
Paperback - 345 pages - 978-0-670-92089-1
Open Ebook - 432 pages - 978-1-101-60930-9
Paperback - 437 pages - 978-0-425-26491-1
Hardcover - 625 pages - 978-1-4104-5938-1
Hardcover - 496 pages - 978-1-4448-1449-1
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McVeigh’s distinctive first novel is a lush, sweeping tale of willful self-deception set against a political attempt to hush up a smallpox epidemic for personal wealth in late 19th-century South Africa. Frances Irvine is left destitute by her father’s death after he loses his fortune in railroad speculation in England. Her choices are to leave London and go to Manchester as an unpaid nursemaid or to travel to the Southern Cape of Africa and marry Dr. Edwin Matthews, a family friend. Frances chooses Edwin, though she dreads the prospect of being his wife almost as much as staying in England. Aboard ship, she falls for William Westbrook, a lively man who sees opportunity in Africa. Once in South Africa, Frances refuses to help run the house, is disgusted by her husband’s quest for justice for the Boers, and is easily swayed by pro-colonial arguments. It’s difficult to retain sympathy for Frances, who refuses to face her mistakes for much of the book. By the time she takes an active part in her life, the reader is nearly out of patience. However, the sensory detail and sweep of the novel are exquisite, particularly for a debut. Agent: Stephanie Cabot, the Gernert Company. (Apr.)
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