By Jennifer McVeigh
I really enjoyed this book. It's a bit of a "throwback" novel to the grand sweeping stories that were big in the 70s and 80s. Frances agrees to marry for necessity, with no affection for her groom at all. As happens, on the ship to South Africa she falls for a handsome stud of a man. I will not say more as it would give away plot. But this is not a romance novel - there's plenty of political discussion and detailed explanation of South Africa, raging smallpox and the diamond minds in the early days of the last century.
There are times I want to shake Francis for her decisions, but also then have to sit back and remember that women in that age were so trapped by conventions that she rarely had any choice in her own life.
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 (Berkley Trade Paperback Reprint; 9780425264911; February 4, 2014; $16) is not to be missed.
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.
About the Author:
Jennifer McVeigh, who has herself traveled to remote areas of Southern and East Africa, also drew on first hand accounts of life in colonial South Africa, as well as nineteenth century guidebooks and women’s magazines, in order to infuse Frances Irvine’s experiences with arresting verisimilitude. I hope you agree that the end result is a beautifully-wrought novel that deserves to be brought to the attention of readers. www.jennifermcveigh.com