Jennifer McVeigh graduated from Oxford University in 2002 with a First in English Literature. She went on to work in film, television, radio and publishing, before giving up her day job to write fiction. She has travelled across East Africa and South Africa, often in off-road vehicles, driving and camping along the way. The Fever Tree is her first novel.
A beautifully written novel of great feeling * Rachel Hore, author
of A Place of Secrets *
Vividly written, and moves so fluidly from Victorian drawing rooms to the wild, spare plains and brutal diamond mines of South Africa - a gripping story * Kim Edwards, author of The Memory Keeper's Daughter *
There is nothing more exciting than a new writer with a genuine voice. I loved it * Julian Fellowes creator of Downton Abbey *
A compelling read with a Gone with the Wind feel to it - I was hooked * Katharine McMahon, author of The Alchemist's Daughter *
Engrossing, emotionally poised and elegantly written - I absolutely loved it * Vanora Bennett author of The People's Queen *
I admired The Fever Tree a lot. She weaves her knowledge skilfully into the fabric of the story and she is very good indeed both at creating atmosphere and a sense of place. It isn't just entertainment but instead both informative, historically accurate and deeply felt. It is the sort of satisfying read so many people are looking for -- Margaret Forster
A bewitching tale of loss, betrayal and love * Vogue *
An epic story of love, deception and courage * Patricia Wastvedt, author of The German Boy *
Epic, enchanting, emotional and engrossing * Easy Living 'Must-read of the Month' *
An unforgettable journey into a heart of darkness: romantic and tragic, a tale of honour and redemption, it leaves wide vistas of a harsh yet beguiling landscape shimmering in the imagination long after the last page is turned * Deborah Lawrenson, author of The Lantern *
Serves up all the delicious elements of a romantic classic, seasoned by evocative prose and keen moral commentary. Gobble it up and then shelve it next to the Bronte sisters * Hillary Jordan, bestselling author of Mudbound *
The Fever Tree is a skilled unfolding of a woman's struggle with desire, class divide and disease in 19th Century South Africa... the journey, like the landscape, is thrillingly huge: one of love, self-knowledge, human and political self-respect. Frances treads out every step - a naive and intriguing character who brings alive a momentous - and appalling - part of history * Financial Times *
McVeigh's attention to the material culture of South Africa really fascinates: no object is too small to attract her notice, and through accumulation such objects become evocative and strangely moving... The Fever Tree is well worth reading * TLS *
McVeigh's distinctive first novel is a lush, sweeping tale of willful self-deception set against a political attempt to hush up a smallpox epidemic for personal wealth in late 19th-century South Africa. Frances Irvine is left destitute by her father's death after he loses his fortune in railroad speculation in England. Her choices are to leave London and go to Manchester as an unpaid nursemaid or to travel to the Southern Cape of Africa and marry Dr. Edwin Matthews, a family friend. Frances chooses Edwin, though she dreads the prospect of being his wife almost as much as staying in England. Aboard ship, she falls for William Westbrook, a lively man who sees opportunity in Africa. Once in South Africa, Frances refuses to help run the house, is disgusted by her husband's quest for justice for the Boers, and is easily swayed by pro-colonial arguments. It's difficult to retain sympathy for Frances, who refuses to face her mistakes for much of the book. By the time she takes an active part in her life, the reader is nearly out of patience. However, the sensory detail and sweep of the novel are exquisite, particularly for a debut. Agent: Stephanie Cabot, the Gernert Company. (Apr.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
In Victorian London, only-child Frances Irvine is used to a life of leisure and excess. Although her Irish roots mark her as "other," she is marginally accepted into society. However, when her father dies suddenly leaving her alone and penniless, Frances is forced to choose between becoming a live-in nurse for her aunt's children or moving halfway around the world to marry her cousin, Edwin Matthews, a man she hardly knows and does not particularly like. Unwilling to face a lifetime of subservience, she quickly boards a ship to South Africa, where she meets William Westbrook, whose daring attitude is a stark contrast to her fiance's seriousness and makes Frances yearn for her freedom. Things are hardly as they first appear and Frances must quickly adapt to a new way of life in a strange land where the comforts she once enjoyed are a thing of the past. To survive, she must move beyond the spoiled child she once was and accept her new existence. VERDICT McVeigh's debut paints vivid portrait of a part of the world we rarely experience in Victorian-era romance. Although it is crafted around a protagonist who is naive to the point of frustration and while the story line is slow to get off the ground and requires much patience on the part of the reader, the writing is solid and delivers in the end. Fans of historical fiction with romantic elements will enjoy this one. [See Prepub Alert, 10/28/12.]-Natasha Grant, New York (c) Copyright 2013. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.