Scribner. Mar. 2013. 320p. ISBN 9781451693416. $26; ebk. ISBN 9781451693430. F
In the early 20th century in bustling and grimy New York City, Mary Mallon (1869–1938) became a medical first when she was identified as a healthy carrier of typhoid fever. Unknowingly, the house cook was passing the disease to families around the city. Eventually, typhoid outbreaks were traced to Mary, and she was placed in isolation. She was released three years later on the condition she would never cook again, but that promise proved hard for her to keep. Keane's second novel (after The Walking People) tells the tragic tale of "Typhoid Mary" and the dangerous decisions she made while following her passion for cooking. The award-winning writer mixes literary imagination with historical fact to humanize the notorious Mary. Readers will question Mary's final choices but scrutinize the injustices committed against her and sympathize when she suffers.
VERDICT Even for those who know the outcome, fiction fans will eagerly anticipate each new page where disease lurks behind every compassionate corner. Keane has replaced the "Typhoid Mary" cliché with a memorable and emotional human story. [Four-city author tour.]
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