The Fever Tree by Jennifer McVeigh

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This is a novel, set in the early 1880s, about a rather spoilt but penniless young woman from London who goes out to South Africa to marry a cousin who’s a doctor there, but meets another man along the way. As the story unfolds, she’s forced to realise that she’s got both men completely wrong. It portrays the seamier side of the diamond rush and the difficulties for British and Afrikaner settles in the Karoo very well. She doesn’t use the names of real historical figures, or real diamond companies, when covering the topic of the controversial response to a smallpox epidemic in the mining areas, but the epidemic and the attempts to cover it up for financial reasons are real historical events. It’s not the sort of deep historical fiction that I prefer, but it’s a good read all the same.

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