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The Fever Tree  By  cover art

The Fever Tree

By: Jennifer McVeigh
Narrated by: Jayne Paterson
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Publisher's Summary

Having drawn comparisons to Gone with the Wind and Out of Africa, The Fever Tree is a pause resistor of the very first order.

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 then 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.

©2013 Jennifer McVeigh (P)2013 Penguin Audio

Critic Reviews

"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

What listeners say about The Fever Tree

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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Colorful Historical Fiction

Any additional comments?

A childhood of pampered luxury does not prepare Frances to be left penniless and friendless on the death of her father after his business fails. In desperation, she marries a young man whom she despises. This man brings her to South Africa, where he is trying to build a medical practice. We are now in the milieu of the 19th c. diamond boom, in which unscrupulous white men exploited the Africans without mercy. Just as Frances begins to make some tentative steps towards contentment in her new life, her husband is transferred from a field station where he inoculates people against small pox to the city of Kimberly, a rough town built up around a huge open pit where the workers are beaten, tortured, and routinely crushed in the unsafe mining conditions. To Frances' dismay, her husband is an outspoken critic of the mine-owners' corrupt treatment of workers. His speeches and articles put both of them at risk for their lives.At this point, Frances makes the disastrous decision to reach out to a man with whom she had an affair on the boat from England. Readers recognize this man as a stinker through and through, but Frances' characterization is done with such skill that we understand and almost sympathize with her.This is a good story, a vivid historical novel, and a fun romantic narrative. It is not among the very great historical novels like Amitav Ghosh's Sea of Poppies, but it is thoroughly entertaining and interesting, especially in its evocation of mining in South Africa. The narration is absolutely terrific.

I should just add that some of the love scenes are fairly explicit.

12 people found this helpful

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Would not recommend

An interesting time and place and topic, and a good writer, but the main character is so painfully weak and dumb that I could barely finish and wouldn't recommend it.

3 people found this helpful

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The Fever Tree

I was very disappointed with the story. The main character was unbelievable. She was is so many situations that did not seem possible, her insecurities and naïveté were ridiculous.

1 person found this helpful

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A visit to South Africa

Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

I would only recommend this to someone who has a particular interest in the history of the time and in conditions in the diamond mines of South Africa. The setting and discriptions of Africa were quite vivid, and the history obviously well researched. But, the characters were self-absorbed to a fault, and the story had many slow sections, then rushed to a neat but unrealistic ending.

Who was your favorite character and why?

That's the main drawback of this story. No one was very likable. Some characters were more unpleasant than others, but all of the main characters seemed self-absorbed in their respective ways. It was difficult to feel sympathy anyone.

Have you listened to any of Jayne Paterson’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

I enjoyed this performance and would listen to another book read by this performer.

1 person found this helpful

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A gripping tale

Fabulous story with good narration that kept me interested throughout! The character development of Frances is well done but I would have liked to see more of the same for her husband. The author's descriptive writing is so good that you clearly gain insight into some of the extraordinary phenomenons of a land so distant and different from my own, the arid veldt of South Africa. It's a gripping tale of love, loss and transformation.

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Bummer

After reading the author's "Lepord at The Dooor" I was anticipating a really good book. I was so dissatisfied when she s tr rated in with the detailed, bodice ripping descriptions. Talk about boring. If I want that junk I can find it. Here was a perfectly good story, strong characters etc and she cheapened it all by that silliness. Sorry I wasted my $$

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Interesting about South Africa, but weak ending

The story about diamond mining in South Africa was nteresting, but the contrived ending was the reason for three stars.

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good book great performance

loved this book so different than any others that I have read. loved hearing about South Africa and even the small pox. loved the two characters Francis and Edwin. don't want to spoil it but loved their relationship ups and downs and how it ultimately turns out.

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Fabulous read

This is one of the most enjoyable books I've read in a long time. The story is Rich, full of suspense, and love. The narrator beautifully intonates the story bringing it to life.