A limited group of book club members assembled as the sun set on a mild fragrant fall evening descending subtly lit stone steps bordered by sage and lavender in the gracious surroundings of Helen’s Tiglio home to discuss The Fever Tree by Jennifer McVeigh.
The Fever Tree, set in late 19th century London and South Africa is the story of a once privileged young woman forced to choose between two unpleasant options and torn between two men, one an idealist and the other an opportunist. The story accurately portrays the real events of the small pox epidemic in South Africa and its effect on the diamond mines and how avarice overrides altruism.
Having drawn comparisons to Gone with the Wind and Out of Africa, The 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.
Margaret led the discussion citing the fascinating background research with reference to real epidemic events in South Africa and their implications in light of colonialization and exploitation. She commended some of descriptive elements but mentioned the overdrawn characterization and the enormous frustration of the missed opportunity of building a great story around the historical events, for she relegated this book to Romantic Fiction, while not quite of the bodice ripping genre, it still leaves an unpleasant taste in the mouth, she added.
Isobel found it an easy read, particularly in pace as the chapters were short and the plot linear and found the characterizations of the Dutch the most believable.
In absentia, Pietro Bianchessi added, via text message, that he liked it but it was a bit cheap on the romance part.
Helen felt it was a good easy read and made reference to the South African issues brought to the fore and their repercussions in current society. So, she felt the book was thought provoking though superficial, and the characterizations didn’t ring entirely true.
The group was all the more indulged for being small, as the food was sumptuous and plenty. Thank you to all who participated and we look forward to seeing everyone at the following meetings:
The Deadly Sisterhood by Leonie Frieda October 16 at Kerry’s, Barga.
The Red House by Mark Haddon November 20 at Anne Capanni’s
Spring Sonata by Bernice Rubens December 18 venue to be announced
More information about the Barga Book Club can be found on their site here