We have another book to spotlight for you this week, The Fever Tree by Jennifer McVeigh. When it was first released in hardcover last year, Oprah.com raved, “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.” McVeigh’s charmed story of loss and love has also been featured in Good Housekeeping, Women’s World, USA Today, Washington Post, The Guardian, Daily Mail, and more. With a perceptive and penetrating narrative, McVeigh unspools the story of Frances Irvine, a young Englishwoman forced by hopeless circumstance to immigrate to the Cape in pursuit of a reluctant marriage. There she discovers a strange new world where greed and colonial exploitation are bringing vast wealth to some and dire misery to countless others. As she struggles to find her place in this inhospitable land, Frances tethers her fate to two very different men: one serious and idealistic, the other charming and ambitious. When a smallpox epidemic threatens the financial dynasty of the most powerful Englishman in South Africa, Frances will be cast into a vortex of dangerous consequences—and find an unexpected, purposeful path. A sweeping novel of romance and South African history that has been compared to Gone with the Wind, The Thorn Birds, and Out of Africa, THE FEVER TREE is an epic, heart wrenching tale not to be missed.
Title: The Fever Tree
Author: Jennifer McVeigh
Genre: Historical Fiction
Blurb: 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.
Thoughts: I’m usually not one to pick up a historical novel, but for some reason this one appealed to me, probably because I have never read one with a background quite like this one. I wish the story itself had stood out as much as the background did. The story itself was good, but in some ways it was a bit predictable. The same could be said of the characters. While it was good, it just didn’t pull me into the story like it should have.
On the other hand, it is apparent that the author really did her research when it comes to this novel. It’s very descriptive and educational when it comes to the background, and it was interesting to read something with such a different background that what I am normally used to. I, however, am more of a get-to-the-point kind of girl, and I don’t like a lot of descriptiveness in my stories, as I prefer to focus more on the characters and their emotions. That’s where this one fell a little flat for me personally – it missing a lot of emotional depth between the characters.
However, I imagine that anyone who enjoys historical romances – with a lot of emphasis on the historical background – would really enjoy this tale. It wasn’t really my cup of tea, but I imagine others would probably enjoy it immensely.