Fever 1793by Laurie Halse Anderson, Lori Earley
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It's late summer 1793, and the streets of Philadelphia are abuzz with mosquitoes and rumors of fever. Down near the docks, many have taken ill, and the fatalities are mounting. Now they include Polly, the serving girl at the Cook Coffeehouse. But fourteen-year-old Mattie Cook doesn't get a moment to mourn the passing of her childhood playmate. New customers have overrun her family's coffee shop, located far from the mosquito-infested river, and Mattie's concerns of fever are all but overshadowed by dreams of growing her family's small business into a thriving enterprise. But when the fever begins to strike closer to home, Mattie's struggle to build a new life must give way to a new fight-the fight to stay alive.
SOURCE: VOYA, December 2000 (Vol. 23, No. 5)
The New York Times Book Review A gripping story about living morally under the shadow of rampant death.
VOYA A vivid work, rich with well-drawn characters.
The New York Times Book Review The plot rages like the epidemic itself.
- Atheneum Books for Young Readers
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Read an Excerpt
CHAPTER TWO -- August 16th, 1793
...the first and most principal to be, a perfect skill and knowledge in cookery...because it is a duty well belonging to women.
-- Gervase Markham
The English House Wife, 1668
As soon as I stepped into the kitchen, Mother started her lecture.
"Too much sleep is bad for your health, Matilda." She slipped a freshly made ball of butter into a stone crock. "It must be a grippe, a sleeping sickness."
I tried not to listen to her. I had not cleared the wax from my ears all summer, hoping it would soften her voice. It had not worked.
"You should be dosed with fish oil. When I was a girl..." She kept talking to herself as she carried a steaming pot of water outside to rinse the butter churn.
I sat down at the table. Our kitchen was larger than most, with an enormous hearth crowded with pots and kettles, and two bake ovens built into the brickwork beside it. The size of the room did not match the size of our family. We were only three: Mother, Grandfather, and me, plus Eliza who worked for us. But the roomy kitchen could feed one hundred people in a day. My family owned the Cook Coffeehouse. The soon-to-be famous Cook Coffeehouse, Grandfather liked to say.
My father had built our home and business after the War for Independence ended in 1783. I was six years old. The coffeehouse sat just off the corner of Seventh and High Streets. At first we were lucky if a lost farmer strayed in, but business improved when President Washington's house was built two blocks away.
Father was a carpenter by trade, and he built us a sturdy home. The room where we served customers filled most of the first floor and had four large windows. The kitchen was tucked into the back, filled with useful shelves and built-in cupboards to store things. We could have used a sitting room, truth be told. Father would have added one on if he had lived. But he fell off a ladder and died of a broken neck two months after the coffeehouse opened. That's when Grandfather joined us.
A coffeehouse was a respectable business for a widow and her father-in-law to run. Mother refused to serve spirits, but she allowed card games and a small bit of gambling as long as she didn't have to see it. By midday the front room was usually crowded with gentlemen, merchants, and politicians enjoying a cup of coffee, a bite to eat, and the news of the day. Father would have been proud. I wondered what he would have thought of me.
"Good morning," Eliza said loudly, startling me. "I thought you were going to sleep the day away. Have you eaten?" She set a sack of coffee beans on the table.
"I'm starving," I said, clutching my stomach.
"As usual," she said with a smile. "Let me get you something quick."
Eliza was the coffeehouse cook. Mother couldn't prepare a meal fit for pigs. I found this amusing, considering our last name was Cook. In a manner, though, it was serious. If not for Eliza's fine victuals, and the hungry customers who paid to eat them, we'd have been in the streets long ago. Mother's family had washed their hands of her when she ran off to marry a carpenter, a tradesman (the horror!), when she was but seventeen. So we were very fond of Eliza.
Like most blacks in Philadelphia, Eliza was free. She said Philadelphia was the best city for freed slaves or freeborn Africans. The Quakers here didn't hold with slavery and tried hard to convince others that slavery was against God's will. Black people were treated different than white people, that was plain to see, but Eliza said nobody could tell her what to do or where to go, and no one would ever, ever beat her again.
She had been born a slave near Williamsburg, Virginia. Her husband saved up his horseshoeing money and bought her freedom right after they were married. She told me that was the best day of her life. She moved to Philadelphia and cooked for us, saving her wages to set her husband free.
When I was eight, she got a letter saying her husband had been killed by a runaway horse. That was her worst day. She didn't say a word for months. My father had only been dead two years, so Mother knew just what lay in Eliza's heart. They both supped sorrow with a big spoon, that's what Mother said. It took years, but the smile slowly returned to Eliza's face. She didn't turn sour like Mother did.
Eliza was the luckiest person I knew. She got to walk from the river past shop windows, market stalls, and the courthouse up to Seventh Street every morning. She told stories even better than Grandfather, and she knew how to keep a secret. She laughed once when I told her she was my best friend, but it was the truth.
She dished up a bowl of oatmeal from a pot that hung by the side of the hearth, then carefully set it in front of me. "Eat up," she said. One corner of her mouth turned up just a bit and she winked.
I tasted the oatmeal. It was sweet. Eliza had hidden a sugar lump at the bottom of the bowl.
"Thank you," I whispered.
"You're welcome," she whispered back.
"Why is Polly late?" I asked. "Have you seen her?"
Eliza shook her head. "Your mother is in a lather, I promise you," she warned. "If Polly doesn't get here soon, she may need to find herself another position."
"I bet she's dawdling by the forge," I said, "watching Matthew work with his shirt collar open."
"Maybe she's ill," Eliza said. "There's talk of sickness by the river."
Mother strode into the room carrying wood for the fire.
"Serving girls don't get sick," Mother said. "If she doesn't appear soon, you'll have to do her chores as well as your own, Matilda. And where is your grandfather? I sent him to inquire about a box of tea an hour ago. He should have returned by now."
"I'd be happy to search for him," I offered. "I could look for Polly, too."
Mother added wood to the fire, poking the logs until the flames jumped. The delicate tip of her shoe tapped impatiently. "No. I'll go. If Father comes back, don't let him leave. And Matilda, see to the garden."
She quickly tied a bonnet under her chin and left, the back door closing behind her with the sharp sound of a musket shot.
"Well," said Eliza. "That's it, then. Here, have some veal and corn bread. Seems like you've a long day ahead of you."
After she cut me two slices of cold veal and a thick piece of fresh corn bread, Eliza started to make gingerbread, one of her specialties. Nutmeg and cinnamon perfumed the air as she ground the spices with a pestle. If not for the heat, I could have stayed in the kitchen for an eternity. The house was silent except for the popping of the applewood in the fire, and the tall clock ticking in the front room. I took a sip from a half-filled mug on the table.
"Ugh! It's coffee!" Black coffee, bitter as medicine. "How can you drink this?" I asked Eliza.
"It tastes better if you don't steal it," she answered. She took the cup from my hands. "Pour your own and leave mine be."
"Are we out of cider?" I asked. "I could get some at the marketplace."
"Oh, no," Eliza said. "You'll stay right here. Your mother needs your help, and that poor garden is like to expire. It is time for you to haul some water, little Mattie."
Little Mattie indeed. Another month and I'd be almost as tall as Eliza. I hated to be called "little."
I sighed loudly, put my dishes in the washtub, and tucked my hair into my mob cap. I tied a disreputable straw hat atop the cap, one I could never wear in the street, and snatched a bite of dough from Eliza's bowl before I ran outside.
The garden measured fifty paces up one side and twenty along the other, but after six weeks of drought it seemed as long and wide as a city block, filled with thousands of drooping plants crying for help.
I dropped the bucket into the well to fill it with water, then turned the handle to bring it back up again. Little Mattie, indeed. I was big enough to be ordered around like an unpaid servant. Big enough for mother to grumble about finding me a husband.
I carried the water to the potato patch and poured it out too fast. Big enough to plan for the day when I would no longer live here.
If I was going to work as hard as a mule, it might as well be for my own benefit. I was going to travel to France and bring back fabric and combs and jewelry that the ladies of Philadelphia would swoon over. And that was just for the dry goods store. I wanted to own an entire city block -- a proper restaurant, an apothecary, maybe a school, or a hatter's shop. Grandfather said I was a Daughter of Liberty, a real American girl. I could steer my own ship. No one would call me little Mattie. They would call me "Ma'am."
"Dash it all." I had watered a row of weeds.
As I returned to the well, Mother came through the garden gate.
"Where's Polly?" I asked as I dropped the bucket down the well. "Did you pass by the blacksmith's?"
"I spoke with her mother, with Mistress Logan," Mother answered softly, looking at her neat rows of carrots.
"And?" I waved a mosquito away from my face.
"It happened quickly. Polly sewed by candlelight after dinner. Her mother repeated that over and over, 'she sewed by candlelight after dinner.' And then she collapsed."
I released the handle and the bucket splashed, a distant sound.
"Matilda, Polly's dead."
Copyright © 2000 by Laurie Halse Anderson
What People are Saying About This
The New York Times Book Review A gripping story about living morally under the shadow of rampant death.
VOYA A vivid work, rich with well-drawn characters.
The New York Times Book Review The plot rages like the epidemic itself.
Meet the Author
Laurie Halse Anderson is a New York Times bestselling author known for tackling tough subjects with humor and sensitivity. Her work has earned numerous ALA and state awards. Two of her books, Chains and Speak, were National Book Award finalists. Chains also received the 2009 Scott O’Dell Award for Historical Fiction, and Laurie was chosen for the 2009 Margaret A. Edwards Award. Mother of four and wife of one, Laurie lives in Pennsylvania, where she likes to watch the snow fall as she writes. You can follow her adventures on Twitter @HalseAnderson, or visit her at MadWomanintheForest.com.
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The book Fever 1793 is a wonderful book to read if you are like 10-12 years old of course it took place in 1793 it was when Washington lived. This book takes place in Philadelphia the book is about this girl named Matilda she is 12 years old and lives with her grandfather and mother (her father died). Yellow fever come into town and more then a 1,000 people were killed it was a disaster. All of Matilda family gets sick and has yellow fever even her to find out if she died or not read this book. If u cry when you read sad book then get a tissue box and start reading!!!! :)
Any teenager would love this book, they can perfectly relate to the main character Mattie Cook. the book begins with Mattie and her mother consistently arguing about when to do chores and work, but Mattie wants the general family coffee shop to turn into Philadelphia's greatest. Just one problem, suddenly the yellow fever strikes Philadelphia causing numerous amounts of sudden death. The yellow fever causes Mattie's family to separate, and endangering their lives. When Mattie arrives in this new land, she realizes that the fever is taking over everywhere. She has to realize how to adapt to a sick environment and survive the fever. Even though the setting is based in the late 1700's you can easily relate to the characters. Mattie is like any teenage girl, she is opinionated and strong willed. The point to view of the book is in first person, from Mattie's perspective. As you read this novel, you may interpret her mother as a demanding housewife but as the story precede you realize Mattie's great appreciation for her mother. If an adult were to have read this novel, they would most likely have a different perspective of the story. I recommend this book to anyone that loves suspense and history. This book is very suspenseful, you are always thinking about what is going to happen next. It is hard to put the book down! Also this book made me realize history can be very interesting. I felt that it took me back in time. This book was so intense you could feel what the character feels. I loved this book.
Fever by Laurie Halse Anderson is a book about an experience the main character Mattie has with yellow fever. This book is during the mid 1700's, when one of Mattie's relatives gets infected with yellow fever she has to go away with her grandfather. When leaving she went through many struggles, causing her life to become very difficult. Putting her life in danger to save others she cared for, becoming very dramatic. Fever gave me a very good experience knowing how tough it was during the Fever with not that many families that didn't survive the Yellow Fever. Mattie went through many obstacles that caused her life to change, with her being much more mature and responsible. In my opinion I believe that the book Fever was a book that taught a historical lesson, however I would have expected something else from the ending of the book. Excluding the ending I enjoyed the book very much for a person who does not enjoy books who are drsmatic. I reccomend this book to anybody who enjoys reading books with drama, suspense, and historical events.
The book is very good to read a little scary but not to scary. I couldn't get my face out of it!
This is PERFECT for 10-12 year olds! I remember reading it in fourth grade and loving it. Heck, I still will pick it up now for memmory's sake. This is the type of story that will stick with you and haunt the reader -- in a good way.
Fever 1793 by Laurie Halse Anderson, is a really interesting book about a girl named Matilda who lives with her mother and her grandfather they run a coffee shop and work with a woman named Eliza. Mattie as she is called is a girl who is always trying to avoid her chores but her dream is to turn their little coffee shop into the most spectacular Philadelphia has ever seen. Although Matilda's dreams get crashed when yellow fever gets spread through out Philadelphia. When Matilda's mother came down with the disease she convinced Mattie's grandfather to go out of town to make them safe. In their way Matilda gets sick and has to go to the hospital for help where she meets Mrs. Flagg a nurse that takes care of her while she is sick. When Matilda and her grandfather go back to Philadelphia they found out that their coffee shop had been robbed and that Matilda's mother was missing. Matilda also has to deal with the dead of her grandfather who dies because a man struck him. Since then Matilda's life becomes even more difficult than it was before. Matilda's life changed and also everybody's that lived in Philadelphia. Matilda finds her mother but the days she suffered will never be erased from her memory. In my opinion the book was great although I think the ending was kind of plain I would of liked it to be more interesting but overall I recommend this book.
I read this book in class and it was embarrassing when I cried at the end- that's how well Laurie Halse Anderson writes! I could feel Mattie's emotions as I was reading and now I'm making my mom read it, too! If you want suspense and thrill (or just a great book), look no further than Fever 1793!
Fever, written by Laurie Halse Anderson, is about a girl named Mattie Cook who is a 13 year old girl. Her personality changes when the fever strikes in Philadelphia. she admires a boy named Nathaniel who likes her back, but her mom does not want her to admire him because she wants her to have a good husband ,such as lawyer. Her mom is a very strong woman who was raised in a very rich family, but then married a carpenter. In the beginning of the book Mattie's dad is dead. The Cook family has a Coffee house which was very big in the 1700's, the coffeehouse is owned by her mom and her grandfather. Everything was normal but when the fever struck everything changed. Death was everywhere in Philadelphia, especially close to the docks. Mattie's mom did not let her be anywhere near the docks or way down by the market. People started to flee the country ,even the president left. Mattie and her grandfather left the country too, waiting for the frost to come. When they returned home the frost had not come ,but the house was a mess and deserted. Mattie was worried about what happened to her mother, she has to stay incase she comes. Mattie is stronger and acts like her mom. Her entire life changes because of the fever. Does the fever end? what happened to her mom? the adventure still continues.The book talks about a fever that struck in the 1700's and this happened in real life This is not fiction book it is real by the events that happen in the book and in history. I recommend this book to everyone because fever is a really good book that shows empowerment that has grown on Mattie since the fever. This is an amazing book that shows great events that happened in Fever, but the ending in the book was not really what I expected because I thought the ending was very simple. In my opinion I think this is one of the best books I have ever read.
Fever by Laurie Halse Anderson, is a Historical Fiction novel about a young girl named Matilda who goes threw a rough time when a terrifying disease reaches town. This story takes place in Philadelphia in the late 1700's.Matilda's widowed mother and grandfather own a coffee house underneath there home. There works Matilda's mother, Matilda and Eliza a free slave who is the Coffee house cook. Things start going wrong once they hear about this horrific disease spreading around Philadelphia called Yellow Fever.Matilda's mother becomes sick therefore Matilda must leave town with her grandfather due to her mother's wish while Eliza stays and takes care of her. As Matilda and her grandfather try to leave town they pass by bumps on the road, and realize that the disease isn't just in their little town in Philadelphia, it's everywhere. Matilda and her grandfather try everything to stay as "sick free" as possible but the disease is so contagious.Now they have to try everything to make it back home to Philadelphia alive and safe. -Student from Young Womans Preparatory Academy
I read this book when i was 8, and loved it. At 18, it is still a favorite, expessialy knowing the history
U get hooked right from the start Such a good book Everyone should read it
This was a pretty good book.
This was an absolutely interesting book, for sure. The characters spoke in Old English, somewhat. Many parts were very emotional, but the characters knew how to make fun of a situation. Although this book was good overall, I wouldn't give it five stars. I found it very difficult to get hooked, to keep reading. I basically had to push myself to finish the book. It was pretty interesting overall, though.
Hi, I'm doing a book report on this book in 5th grade, I'm a really big reader and love mystery. So far, it's really good but I'm not very far. Do you think I'll like it?
LOVE IT i had to read it for school and it ROCKS
Amazing. The only thing bad about this book is when ot ends your going to want more out of it
This is a very sad book but also very awesome. In the beggning of the book it will seam boring but it is not
Hello again for people who always read my reviews. I am reading this book right now and i personaly think that it is one of the best historical fiction books i have read. I recomend this book for anyone who can understand that this is a real crisis that actually happend at one point in history so please that into consideration. Goodbye.
Best book ever
Really great i thought that it was really cool
Fever by Laurie Halse Anderson was a very emotional book for the reason being that the main character: Matilda (Mattie) suffers with situations a teenager shouldn't go through alone. She faces real-life dilemmas, those she can fix and those she simply has no control over. Matilda and her family run a coffeehouse so their schedule is kind of busy, but her mind and soul keeps it going with a smile in her face. The town of Philadelphia get struck with the burden of Yellow-Fever and the smile of Matilda's appearance quickly turns upside down as the town experiences the hard faces of the yet incurable disease. The novel fever lets you know that no matter where you are, who you're with, you'll always face problems that you have to make the best of. Fever situations can be closely compared to what people did face on the late 1700 like Yellow-Fever and the enslaved African Americans. Disease and Pain played a major role in the book and the only thing you need to take in count of is hope and that by time, everything will get better. One word to describe Fever is unforgettable. Fever relates to you and can advice you to have Faith. While Matilda's mom is missing, she can only think of her and that shes in a safe environment and will be home soon. While Faith was taking action, everything was falling back to place as the town was reunited, but as everyone realized, it will never be the same, however it can be turned closely to what it was.
In Philadelphia during the late 17th century, Matilda Cook has many dreams and hopes. She works with her mother and grandfather in a coffeehouse, with their helpers Eliza and Polly. Later on as Matilda was working, her mother tells her something so shocking, Polly was sick. A rare disease called yellow fever broke through in 1793. When she found out her mother had the fever she had to leave Philadelphia with her grandfather, to journey around to find a safe place. Later on Matilda finds out that the fever is everywhere, passing houses and houses with the yellow flags. They were trap! As they came back to the coffee shop they noticed that her mother was gone and the shop was vandalize The author Laurie Halse Anderson is also the author of these other great books; Speak and Chains, she has an amazing mind making the book so realistic. Fever is historical, twisting, and realistic, it blows my mind away with tears and joy.
What happens when you are in Philly with Yellow fever spreading quicker than wildfire? In Fever, 1793 the author, Laurie Halse Anderson, explains the difficult and heartbreaking journey of miss Matilda Cook. Matilda lives with grandfather and her mother in a tiny little apartment above their coffeehouse. Everyday, they have many of men go in and out their coffee house, sipping a cup of joe or eating soup that Eliza made. Then, everything went dark. Their poor serving girl, Polly, died of the serious disease called Yellow Fever. This starts spreading quickly through Philadelphia. It changes the face of everything. Matilda’s mom becomes very ill with the disease. Doctors and professionals are trying to cure the illness but nothing is helping. Also remember, this was in 1793, they did not have the medical advances that we have today. Everyone started flying out of the city, hoping not to get the disease. But, grandfather and Matilda stay out with mother. All the well are out of the area, just the sick and the nurses who give their lives to care for them. Finally, grandpa and matilda leave their mother with ELiza. Eliza is part of a club called the Freed Slaves. Then, grandpa and Mattie face many difficulties on their way to try to find safety. I really love the way Laurie Halse Anderson’s language in Fever, 1793. It really sounds like it was written during yellow fever in 1793. Also, it sounds like a real teenager. Like when Mattie balks her mother's ideas and ignores her. Next, I really appreciate the quotes from the actual epidemic. At the beginning of every chapter,it has a quote someone said or wrote in the tragic event. The reason i love them is because they make the story feel real and realistic. I would definitely recommend reading this book if you are into historical fiction and adventure books. I would definately rate this book 5/5.
I read this book when I was about 13. I was hooked on it then and now almost 10 years later I decided to reread. Yes, this book was that good. The title and the story itself embedded itself into my brain and I just could stop thinking about it all these years later. It really is a great book for anyone but it is an amazing read for girls between 10- 17. I'm enjoying it now but not as much as I did when I read it so long ago.