Through Net Galley I received an ARC of “Fever”, the biography of “Typhoid Mary” by Mary Beth Keane. I had heard of Typhoid Mary, but didn’t know her true story. This novel, appropriate for YA or adults, gave an interesting and sensitive account of Mary Mallon’s life and experience as a healthy carrier of typhoid in New York in the early 1900’s.
Mary Mallon came to America from Ireland and worked her way from being a laundress to being a cook. She loved cooking and had a talent for it. At times she cooked for wealthy and prestigious families in New York and New England, but death followed Mary and she was accused of being a healthy carrier of typhoid fever. “Fever” follows Mary’s journey from New York to her confinement on North Brother Island in New York. Mary fights for her life back and her job and reputation. A large part of the story is Mary’s relationship with her significant other, Alfred, with whom she had lived for over twenty years before she was taken away.
I really enjoyed reading this historical biography. Turn of the century New York comes alive as Keane creates a compelling and sympathetic protagonist in Mary Mallon.