From the blurb:
1880, South Africa – a land torn apart by greed…
Frances Irvine, left penniless after her father’s sudden death, is forced to emigrate to the Cape. In this barren country, she meets two very different men – one driven by ambition, the other by ideals. When a smallpox outbreak sends her to the diamond mines, she is drawn into a ruthless world of greed and exploitation, of human lives crushed in the scramble for power. But here – at last – she sees her path to happiness. Torn between passion and integrity, she makes a choice that has devastating consequences…
The Fever Tree has been well received by critics and is being promoted as part of the UK’s prestigious Richard and Judy Book Club. I can see why! This is a beautifully written book – moving, compelling, engaging. It swept me away to the Africa of the nineteenth century, and while the romance elements are wonderful, this is so much more than a romance. The author’s impeccable research and thoughtful, sensitive approach to the subject matter shines through to create a book that has, as the review on the cover suggests, ‘a Gone With the Wind feel about it’.
Each word is carefully chosen; each sentence and paragraph expertly crafted. This is literature; this is the very beauty of storytelling encapsulated on the page. The characters are so vivid they leap off the pages at you, and I loved the development of the protagonist, Frances, from naïve child to wise and loving woman. The love story is wonderful, and I defy any reader not to love the ending.
Readers of my book Burning Embers will no doubt recognise, on reading The Fever Tree, quite why it speaks to me so much. There is a wealth of parallels: the setting of wild Africa; the protagonist alone in the world having lost her father; her naivety and sheltered upbringing put to the test under the blazing hot sun; the romance that begins aboard a ship; the need to unravel the layers of characters to understand their deepest secrets… And, of course, the fever tree itself, the acacia, features in my own book and is similarly on the cover.
Could I give this book six stars out of five, I would. A wonderful, intelligent debut novel and, I hope, the first of many by this author.
The Fever Tree is available now from Amazon; click on the book cover below to visit the store.