The Fever Tree

The Fever Tree

3.7 13
by Jennifer McVeigh
     
 

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“There is nothing more exciting than a new writer with a genuine voice. I loved it.” —Julian Fellowes, creator of Downton Abbey

Frances Irvine, left destitute in the wake of her father’s sudden death, has been forced to abandon her life of wealth and privilege in London and emigrate to the Southern Cape of Africa. 1880 South

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Overview

“There is nothing more exciting than a new writer with a genuine voice. I loved it.” —Julian Fellowes, creator of Downton Abbey

Frances Irvine, left destitute in the wake of her father’s sudden death, has been forced to abandon her life of wealth and privilege in London and emigrate to the Southern Cape of Africa. 1880 South Africa is a country torn apart by greed. In this remote and inhospitable land she becomes entangled with two very different men—one driven by ambition, the other by his ideals. Only when the rumor of an epidemic takes her into the dark heart of the diamond mines does Frances see her road to happiness.
 
But before she can follow that path, Frances must choose between passion and integrity, between her desire for the man who captured her heart and her duty to the man who saved her from near ruin, a decision that will have devastating consequences.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
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.)
From the Publisher
“Debut author Jennifer McVeigh has created a fully realized sensory tour of 19th-century South Africa: You feel the grit of each dust storm, taste the mealie Frances chokes down, hear the cicadas scraping through the heat-parched air along with Frances’ plaintive piano playing. Against this desperate backdrop is an exploration of the vicissitudes of passion, the brutality of imperialism and the diamond trade's deeply racist beginnings. Though the book is a page-turner of the ‘who will she choose?’ variety right until the end, the most fascinating strand of the story is Frances, and her struggles to come to terms with her new ideas about society, marriage, family and love.” —Oprah.com

“Fabulous … this debut novel displays real power. McVeigh brings alive the diamond mines, the boom-or-bust frenzy created by instant wealth, the hostility between the Dutch-speaking Boers and the new British colonists. It also conveys the arid beauty of the sun-drenched terrain with its spiders, snakes and meerkats. Most of all, McVeigh captures how greed and racism blinded whites to the savage mistreatment of the black Africans being robbed of their land and its wealth. History has rarely been more vividly presented.” —USA Today

“A page-turner to tempt you.” —Good Housekeeping

 “There is nothing more exciting than a new writer with a genuine voice. I loved it.” —Julian Fellowes, creator of Downton Abbey

“Jennifer McVeigh’s first novel, The Fever Tree, is a lovely one. . . . tremendously appealing . . . a page-turner.” —Associated Press

“McVeigh has imagined a rich and dramatic story.”—The Washington Post

“[A] bewitching tale of loss, betrayal and love.” —Vogue, UK

“McVeigh’s distinctive first novel is a lush, sweeping take of willful self-deception. . . . [t]he sensory detail and sweep of the novel are exquisite, particularly for a debut.” —Publishers Weekly

“Read England's hottest book! The Fever Tree by Jennifer McVeigh is already a bestseller in the UK (Downton Abbey creator Julian Fellows is a fan!).”—Woman’s World

“While epic in both geographic and emotional scope, it also does a lovely job of illuminating how easy it is to see everything we lack and how hard it is to see what’s already in front of us. It’s earned comparisons to both Gone with the Wind and Out of Africa.” —Examiner.com

“Fans of romantic classics such a The Thorn Birds and A Woman of Substance will be thrilled to discover McVeigh.” —San Antonio Express-News

“Forceful and direct, yet surprisingly lyrical, McVeigh’s narrative weaves top-notch research and true passion for the material with a well-conceived plot. . . . Overall, this story’s a gem.” —Kirkus Reviews

"With its cinematic descriptions and compulsively readable plotline, this debut novel may well become a book-club favorite. . . . With its social-justice angle; exotic, ruggedly beautiful location; and universal theme of emotional growth, this will have wide appeal.” —Booklist

“[R]iveting debut . . . McVeigh’s exhaustive research shines through . . . The Fever Tree is an engaging read; its capricious heroine grabs you from the start, urging you to ride out her journey before the morning alarm rings.” —BookPage

The Fever Tree is vividly written, and moves so fluidly from Victorian drawing rooms to the wild, spare plains and brutal diamond mines of South Africa; place and people come alive in this book…. A gripping story—I found myself thinking of scenes from this book long after I had turned the last page.” —Kim Edwards, New York Times bestselling author

“An orphaned young gentlewoman, a shipboard romance en route to a strange and perilous land, a forced marriage to an enigmatic stranger . . .  The Fever Tree serves up all the delicious elements of a romantic classic, seasoned by evocative prose and keen moral commentary. Gobble it up and then shelve it next to the Brontë sisters.” —Hillary Jordan, author of Mudbound

“I loved it. I found Frances very convincing as a quiet but deep and passionate Victorian Englishwoman making her way in the most unfamiliar and grueling of circumstances in colonial South Africa. Jennifer McVeigh brilliantly evokes her life and times and the vast, unforgiving landscape. It’s a beautifully written novel of great feeling.” —Rachel Hore, bestselling author of The Place of Secrets and A Gathering Storm

“Jennifer McVeigh writes with perception and grace. This is an epic story of love, deception, and courage, and a young woman’s journey of self-discovery in a country of spectacular beauty.” —Patricia Wastvedt, author of The German Boy
 
“I whizzed through it and the writing was flawless and I was in awe of the breadth and scope. It is a rattling good read.” —Suzannah Dunn, author of The Confession of Katherine Howard and The Sixth Wife

“A world of red dust plains, pioneering grit, and the cruelty of colonial greed. Vividly described and supremely well-paced, this is an unforgettable journey into a heart of darkness.” —Deborah Lawrenson, author of The Lantern

Library Journal
In Victorian London, only-child Frances Irvine is used to a life of leisure and excess. Although her Irish roots mark her as "other," she is marginally accepted into society. However, when her father dies suddenly leaving her alone and penniless, Frances is forced to choose between becoming a live-in nurse for her aunt's children or moving halfway around the world to marry her cousin, Edwin Matthews, a man she hardly knows and does not particularly like. Unwilling to face a lifetime of subservience, she quickly boards a ship to South Africa, where she meets William Westbrook, whose daring attitude is a stark contrast to her fiancé's seriousness and makes Frances yearn for her freedom. Things are hardly as they first appear and Frances must quickly adapt to a new way of life in a strange land where the comforts she once enjoyed are a thing of the past. To survive, she must move beyond the spoiled child she once was and accept her new existence. VERDICT McVeigh's debut paints vivid portrait of a part of the world we rarely experience in Victorian-era romance. Although it is crafted around a protagonist who is naive to the point of frustration and while the story line is slow to get off the ground and requires much patience on the part of the reader, the writing is solid and delivers in the end. Fans of historical fiction with romantic elements will enjoy this one. [See Prepub Alert, 10/28/12.]—Natasha Grant, New York
Kirkus Reviews
South Africa's corrupt and disease-riddled diamond industry in the 1880s serves as a gritty setting for newcomer McVeigh's historical novel about a young English woman's journey toward self-enlightenment. When Frances Irvine's father dies and leaves her penniless, she reluctantly accepts a distant cousin's marriage proposal. She considers Dr. Edwin Matthews a cold and unemotional man who's socially beneath her, but Frances hopes Edwin's practice in South Africa will one day provide her with the lifestyle to which she's accustomed. Besides, no one else has volunteered to take her in, except for an aunt who expects Frances to work as a nanny in exchange for lodging. Sharing a small second-class cabin with two other girls, 19-year-old Frances sets sail for her new home, but during the voyage, she falls in love with William Westbrook. She's convinced he loves her, too, but Frances eventually resigns herself to marrying Edwin when William fails to follow through on their plans to be together after the voyage. When she arrives at her new home, she's dismayed to discover Edwin lives in a remote area in a hovel. There are few comforts--save for a piano Edwin bought her as a wedding present--and Frances unhappily refuses to adapt to her new life. In fact, Frances views her husband with scorn and doesn't understand his preoccupation with a smallpox outbreak, which he claims is of epidemic proportion, or his defense of the rights of South African natives who work in the mines; she remains more concerned about the discomfort she faces each day due to her husband's lack of financial ambition. After they move to Kensington, though, Frances slowly realizes there's more to her husband than she first assumed, and she discovers that many people respect him, not only for his work as a medical doctor, but as a human rights advocate. Still, she believes that William, not Edwin, represents her path to happiness. Forceful and direct, yet surprisingly lyrical, McVeigh's narrative weaves top-notch research and true passion for the material with a well-conceived plot. Readers might argue that the ending's a bit weak when compared to the boldness of the rest of the story, but that's a minor issue. Overall, this story's a gem.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781410459381
Publisher:
Gale Cengage Learning
Publication date:
07/10/2013
Edition description:
Large Print
Pages:
622
Product dimensions:
5.60(w) x 8.60(h) x 1.30(d)
Age Range:
18 Years

What People are saying about this

From the Publisher
 

“Debut author Jennifer McVeigh has created a fully realized sensory tour of 19th-century South Africa: You feel the grit of each dust storm, taste the mealie Frances chokes down, hear the cicadas scraping through the heat-parched air along with Frances’ plaintive piano playing. Against this desperate backdrop is an exploration of the vicissitudes of passion, the brutality of imperialism and the diamond trade's deeply racist beginnings. Though the book is a page-turner of the ‘who will she choose?’ variety right until the end, the most fascinating strand of the story is Frances, and her struggles to come to terms with her new ideas about society, marriage, family and love.” —Oprah.com
 
“Fabulous … this debut novel displays real power. McVeigh brings alive the diamond mines, the boom-or-bust frenzy created by instant wealth, the hostility between the Dutch-speaking Boers and the new British colonists. It also conveys the arid beauty of the sun-drenched terrain with its spiders, snakes and meerkats. Most of all, McVeigh captures how greed and racism blinded whites to the savage mistreatment of the black Africans being robbed of their land and its wealth. History has rarely been more vividly presented.” —USA Today
 
“A page-turner to tempt you.” —Good Housekeeping
 
“Read England's hottest book! The Fever Tree by Jennifer McVeigh is already a bestseller in the UK (Downton Abbey creator Julian Fellows is a fan!) —Woman’s World
 
“Jennifer McVeigh’s first novel, The Fever Tree, is a lovely one. . . . tremendously appealing . . . a page-turner.” —Associated Press

“McVeigh has imagined a rich and dramatic story.”—The Washington Post

 “There is nothing more exciting than a new writer with a genuine voice. I loved it.” —Julian Fellowes, creator of Downton Abbey
 
“McVeigh’s distinctive first novel is a lush, sweeping take of willful self-deception. . . . [t]he sensory detail and sweep of the novel are exquisite, particularly for a debut.” —Publishers Weekly
 
“While epic in both geographic and emotional scope, it also does a lovely job of illuminating how easy it is to see everything we lack and how hard it is to see what’s already in front of us. It’s earned comparisons to both Gone with the Wind and Out of Africa.” —Examiner.com

“[A] bewitching tale of loss, betrayal and love.” —Vogue, UK
 
“Fans of romantic classics such a The Thorn Birds and A Woman of Substance will be thrilled to discover McVeigh.” —San Antonio Express-News

"The Fever Tree is such a tale, a big bralwing book that's reminiscent of an old-time classic. . . . There's much to enjoy in this historical novel that delves into the injustices of diamond mining. . . . The Fever Tree is entertaining, the plot moves along, and is engaging. . . ." —The Missourian

“Forceful and direct, yet surprisingly lyrical, McVeigh’s narrative weaves top-notch research and true passion for the material with a well-conceived plot. . . . Overall, this story’s a gem.” —Kirkus Reviews 
 
"With its cinematic descriptions and compulsively readable plotline, this debut novel may well become a book-club favorite. . . . With its social-justice angle; exotic, ruggedly beautiful location; and universal theme of emotional growth, this will have wide appeal.” —Booklist
 
“[R]iveting debut . . . McVeigh’s exhaustive research shines through . . . The Fever Tree is an engaging read; its capricious heroine grabs you from the start, urging you to ride out her journey before the morning alarm rings.” —BookPage
 
The Fever Tree is vividly written, and moves so fluidly from Victorian drawing rooms to the wild, spare plains and brutal diamond mines of South Africa; place and people come alive in this book…. A gripping story—I found myself thinking of scenes from this book long after I had turned the last page.” —Kim Edwards, New York Times–bestselling author
 

 
“An orphaned young gentlewoman, a shipboard romance en route to a strange and perilous land, a forced marriage to an enigmatic stranger . . .  The Fever Tree serves up all the delicious elements of a romantic classic, seasoned by evocative prose and keen moral commentary. Gobble it up and then shelve it next to the Brontë sisters.” —Hillary Jordan, author of Mudbound
 
“I loved it. I found Frances very convincing as a quiet but deep and passionate Victorian Englishwoman making her way in the most unfamiliar and grueling of circumstances in colonial South Africa. Jennifer McVeigh brilliantly evokes her life and times and the vast, unforgiving landscape. It’s a beautifully written novel of great feeling.” —Rachel Hore, bestselling author of The Place of Secrets and A Gathering Storm
 
“Jennifer McVeigh writes with perception and grace. This is an epic story of love, deception, and courage, and a young woman’s journey of self-discovery in a country of spectacular beauty.” —Patricia Wastvedt, author of The German Boy
 
“I whizzed through it and the writing was flawless and I was in awe of the breadth and scope. It is a rattling good read.” —Suzannah Dunn, author of The Confession of Katherine Howard and The Sixth Wife
 
“A world of red dust plains, pioneering grit, and the cruelty of colonial greed. Vividly described and supremely well-paced, this is an unforgettable journey into a heart of darkness.” —Deborah Lawrenson, author of The Lantern
 
 

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Meet the Author

Jennifer McVeigh graduated from Oxford University in 2002 with a First in English literature. She went on to work in film, television, radio, and publishing, before giving up her day job to write fiction.

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