Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Blog Tour: The Fever Tree by Jennifer McVeigh

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The Fever Tree
By:  Jennifer McVeigh
Publisher:  Penguin
Source:  Publisher

GR's Summary

Having drawn comparisons to Gone with the Wind and Out of AfricaThe 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 Treeis 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. 


“There is nothing more exciting than a new writer with a genuine voice. I loved it.”
—Julian Fellowes creator of Downton Abbey
“A magical, bewitching tale of loss, betrayal and love.”
Vogue (UK)

“Jennifer McVeigh writes with perception and grace. This is an epic story of love, deception, and courage, and a young woman’s journey of self-discovery in a country
of spectacular beauty.”
—Patricia Wastvedt, author of The German Boy

My Take on this Journey

The Fever Tree, by Jennifer McVeigh, is her debut novel into the world of Literary excellence.  Ms. McVeigh has created a stunning portrayal of South Africa and the Diamond Mining, in Kimberly, in the 1800's.  Her descriptions are visionary, with the quintessential essence of an era long forgotten.  Ms. McVeigh has brought to life her vision of a Historical Romance, Colonial Africa, epidemics, exploitation of immigrants and natives, struggles, greed, abuse, disease, destruction, animal cruelty, and painstaking realities of a life we could never imagine in our wildest dreams.  Her vision is so clear, it is as if her readers are present, witnessing every historical event, which has been carefully researched and developed into this epic saga, The Fever Tree.

The story begins in London, with Frances Irvine, an only child from a privileged self made Irish father.  Her mother passed away 2 years ago, was a Hamilton, and her family looked down on her husband for being an Irish immigrant.  Her father could not deal with his loss and so he has every picture, representation, artifact, reminder, removed from the house as though she never existed.  Frances is never allowed to speak of her mother or her death, and she must grieve on her alone, silently.  Frances is a bit naive, pampered, and use to a governess, maids, and carriage keepers.  Her sense of entitlement is obvious, as she assumes she will always been a woman of substance.  She has been raised to be a lady in every manner, is a bit pompous, and knows no other way of life.

Suddenly, her father dies, and Frances has gone from a woman of means to a pauper.  She is left destitute, due to financial ruin, because her father, being a visionary, made a bad investment into railways.  She doesn't have an abundance of choices, either be abandoned by her mother's family, used as a nurse maid by her father's sister, or marry Edwin.  So she decides to take a proposal of marriage from Dr. Edwin Matthews.  Now Frances must leave her comfortable surroundings for South Africa to begin her new life with Edwin.  Edwin was given an opportunity to come to stay with Frances and her father as a teenager, and was taken under her father's wing.  Now he is ready to repay the debt, by helping Frances, and at the same time further his career by meeting people in the right circles with Frances' help.  Frances agrees to marry him, though she thinks he has a very unlikable personality, is severely quiet, and ranks on her nerves, as he did as a teenager.  She feels that Edwin is using the situation to act as an opportunist, and take advantage of her. As she leaves on a steamer ship to the Cape in South Africa to marry a Doctor, Frances believes her life will be be in a big city filled with the affluence, though she knows it won't be what she has been accustomed to her whole life. She knows she will have to do without certain things, but not to what degree this will change.  On the steamer, she meets a dashingly handsome cad, William Westbrook, who she eagerly falls in love, lust and passion with.  Frances is ready to forgo her marriage to Edwin to go off with William, when he tells her he has no intentions of marrying her.  Frances, though brokenhearted, decides she has no choice but to follow through with the loveless marriage to Edwin out of sheer necessity.

Frances is in for a rude awakening when she arrives to find the desolate, isolated area that her and Edwin will be living in.  Life is not the high society that she believed it would be.  Here, eventually, she is thrown into the impoverished area, the Diamond Mines, Small Pox, atrocities, animal cruelty, and pure greed of people who want to become rich at any cost.  Frances is miserable and cannot get the image of William out of her mind.  Though her new found freedom is embraced.

She is bound on the roller coaster of life, not knowing how to make proper choices, (as they have all been made for her, her entire life.)  Frances has a lot of growing up to do and a very hard, long, road to travel, mistakes to be made, and reparations to be amended.  It takes quite a lot for Frances to finally realize the treasure that has been right in front of her all along.  She grows in many ways from the coddled child, to a young woman on a journey of self-realization and self discovery, that leads her to evolve with a resilience of heart, soul, and spirit. The prose in this epic saga are momentous.  This is a historical romance with all the splendor of Gone with the Wind.

This novel had characters that fought the good fight to get through their journey, and it had people that were sadistic, cruel, inhumane in their treatment of others and animals, along with the devastation to a country and its land.  This novel spans the drought, many historical events, colonial Africa, the Victorian Era, and more.  Ms. McVeigh has written seamless prose, made her readers think on a more spiritual level of a country filled with devastation and ruin.  This is a love for a country unyielding in it's promise for a future.  This is a masterpiece of Africa's history and American Literature, far beyond romance, and an abundance of wealth beyond measure.

I give, The Fever Tree, by Jennifer McVeigh, 4 Life Changing, Eye Opening, Acacia Fever Trees, Second Chances, Cinema Scope Descriptive Stars!!!

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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.  


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1 comment:

  1. I'm glad you loved this. Thanks for the giveaway! I've had this on my tbr list for a long time.


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