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Saturday, May 18, 2013

The Fever Tree by Jennifer McVeigh

The Fever Tree
Having drawn comparisons to Gone with the Wind and Out of Africa, The Fever Tree is a page-turner of the very first order.
In London she was caged by society.
In South Africa, she is dangerously free.

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 a smallpox epidemic takes her into the dark heart of the diamond mines does she see her path to happiness.   But this is a ruthless world of avarice and exploitation, where the spoils of the rich come at a terrible human cost and powerful men will go to any lengths to keep the mines in operation. Removed from civilization and disillusioned by her isolation, Frances must choose between passion and integrity, a decision that has devastating consequences.   The Fever Tree is a compelling portrait of colonial South Africa, its raw beauty and deprivation alive in equal measure. But above all it is a love story about how—just when we need it most—fear can blind us to the truth.   
Summary & Cover taken from
Length: 432 (Hardcover)
Available Formats: Print/E-book/Audio
Publication Date:  April 4th 2013 by Amy Einhorn Books/Putnam 
When I first saw the cover of The Fever Tree I was blown away and I have to say that each of the different are equally as stunning as this one which is the edition that I read. So I was so excited when this was selected for my book club's book of the month.
I love reading about South Africa so as soon as I saw this one I knew I had to read it. It isn't very common to find a lot of historical fiction set in South Africa so this one was a rare treat and shows that there are more and more authors adopting the theme of historical fiction set there as well as other places in Africa which is a nice change. I think Africa as a whole is a great place to write about and offers that sense of adventure many readers are looking for as well as reading about somewhere new and different.
Beginning in England in the 1880's we're introduced to our main character Frances and her soon to be husband Edwin and follow the circumstances that lead to these two distant cousins to marry, immigrate to South Africa and begin their lives together in a tumultuous time in the country's history.
I thought that the plot was very good. I loved the various settings in the novel. From Frances's childhood home in England to the month long boat trip to Capetown and finally living in South Africa I was completely enthralled with the story. I loved how realistic the places were, the plot, and the characters all turned out to be and I loved how the author aptly captured the time period and the ruggedness of the country.
I loved how this was not only a journey spanning continents but a personal journey for Frances as she comes to terms with her fathers death, being offloaded into a one sided marriage, being forced to move to a new country, falling in love with a man who wasn't her husband, betrayal and forgiveness. Frances definitely wasn't the easiest character to love. She's deeply flawed and self centered and definitely not prepared for living off the land in South Africa and having to learn to do the things she once had servants back in England for. However despite her selfishness towards her husband and others I felt for her. She truly was a victim of circumstances beyond her control in a lot of ways but I for one didn't agree with her affair before marrying Edwin.
Edwin was a great character but I wish we knew more about him. I wish the author would write a second book but this time telling the story from his point of view. He was a hard worker and a political man but he loved the people regardless of colour his duties as a doctor made him see everyone as equals. I loved how strong he was and he did have to put up with a lot but he made his own mistakes as well. The fact that the characters were battling their own demons made them very lifelike and that what really got to me. 
The depictions of how hard life was for everyone during this time in the country's history was amazingly vivid and I felt as if I were watching the tale unfold on the big screen. There was a lot of corruption, greed and betrayal happening not just with the main characters but with the powers that be in the country overall. I really enjoyed this glimpse into the past and am so glad that the author wrote such a wonderful piece of historical fiction.
Ultimately The Fever Tree was a story of love, loss and forgiveness and showed both characters coming into their own and learning to put differences aside and truly grow as individuals and as a couple even if fate hadn't dealt them the best hand.
Overall, I absolutely loved The Fever Tree and it's now one of my favourite books not only of 2013 but of all time. For me The Fever Tree was the whole package with great realistic characters, vivid descriptions and a unique back drop that is not often found in this genre. The writing swept me off my feet and the author's writing was fresh and new. I have to say that for this being the author's debut novel I am totally blown away and I can only hope and cross my fingers that the author continues to write historical fiction set in Africa because she has a real gift for it and you can tell there was a lot of research that had gone on in the writing process and it really paid off and I can see myself re-reading this time and time again in the future. It's just one of those stories that really resonated with me.
I would highly recommend this novel to all fans of historical fiction who are looking to read about a time and place that is under-represented in the genre and looking for something new and the author is definitely a fresh new voice in the genre.
I read this book for the following reading challenges:
2013 150+ Reading Challenge
2013 Historical Reading Challenge
2013 Around the World Challenge

Loved It!

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  1. Great review. Very well written. Sounds like a good book. I know you liked it a lot

    1. I loved this book Babe :) Not just liked it a lot. Loved it. Don't get it twisted!

  2. This sounds like an interesting book. I rarely read historical fiction but I will add this to my TBR. The cover is really gorgeous. Great Review! :)

  3. This sounds like an incredible book. Your love for it really shines through your review. I think I'll suggest it to my mom and sister for their book club. (I'm not in a book club at present, or I'd suggest it to mine!)


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