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The Fever Tree by Jennifer McVeigh

Fever Tree

I wish I could remember where I saw a recommendation for The Fever Tree by Jennifer McVeigh. I must have seen the book somewhere and so I saved the title in an ongoing list I have on my phone of books I’d like to read. After I finished The Casual Vacancy I downloaded it to my Nook. Looking for a change of scenery with The Fever Tree, I moved from present day England to colonial South Africa around the year 1880.

Following the death of her father, Frances Irvine is left with little choice but to accept the marriage proposal of Dr. Edwin Matthews. Frances must leave behind everything she knows in Victorian London to travel to colonial South Africa where her soon to be husband practices medicine.  En route to meeting her fiancée in South Africa by way of steamboat, Frances is introduced to Mr. William Westbrook, a wealthy man driven by ambition whom she develops feelings for.  And, queue the love triangle.

But in all actuality, this novel is about so much more than a love triangle.  Set against the devastating cruelty inflicted onto the native Africans by the corrupt men controlling a majority the diamond mining, The Fever Tree tells the story of a naïve girl who has trouble facing the reality that doing what is right isn’t always what is easy. McVeigh’s beautiful description of South Africa brings the setting to life in a way that I could easily see this book being made into the movie.

I really liked The Fever Tree. While slightly predictable (I was easily able to tell who was ultimately the “bad guy(s),” and I think you will too), Frances’ road to self-discovery makes the read worthwhile.  And also, if you will notice, this post comes pretty much immediately after The Casual Vacancy. That is because this was a fast read that I didn’t want to put down.  I was fortunate to have free time this past weekend that I could devote to reading and finishing this book was a wonderful way to spend a Sunday afternoon.