Cabin Fever

Jolley, Elizabeth. Cabin Fever. New York: Harper Perennial, 1990.

We don’t really move forward chronologically in this “sequel” to My Father’s Moon. When we last left Vera, she was a single mother dealing with her own overbearing mother. The story bounced between Vera’s present and her past. Cabin Fever is more of the same, only with more detail about the time period. In this installment Vera is in New York for a conference but for almost all of the plot we are in the past, when Vera is a new mother trying to make ends meet. She is still as sad and lonely as she ever was. It is at this point that we learn Vera’s mother made Vera change her baby’s name from Beatrice to Helena. We also learn more about the affair between Vera and Dr. Metcalf, a doctor she worked with at the hospital. Vera bounces from one live-in nanny/housekeeper situation to another until she lands at the Georges residence (enter sequel number three). Brother and sister live together and already have a live-in, Nora. Vera finds a way to stay in the house by filling another need of the household. I’ll leave that bit unspoken. You just have to read it to find out…

Quotes that moved me, “Playful spinsters and exuberant lesbians give birth and special seminars are held to discuss the phenomenon of these people wanting to keep their babies” (p 6), “In my secret game of comparisons Bulge us far worse than I am in every respect, her hair, her stockings, her spectacles, and her shape” (p 12),

Confessional: because I didn’t really like Vera in My Father’s Moon I wasn’t looking forward to her story in Cabin Fever. By the end of Cabin Fever I didn’t learn to like her any better. There is a scene towards the end (p 164) when Vera’s daughter is crying. Vera doesn’t go to comfort her. All she can do is watch her four-year-old from across the room. It’s really sad.

Reason read: Cabin Fever continues the series I started earlier in February to honor of Jolley’s passing.

Author fact: According the the back flap of Cabin Fever Jolley conducted writing workshops in prisons. I find that so fascinating.

Book trivia: Cabin Fever is the second book in the Vera Wright Trilogy.

BookLust Twist: from Book Lust To Go in the chapter called “Australia, the Land of Oz: fiction” (p 30). As with My Father’s Moon, Cabin Fever has nothing to do with Australia. Jolley started writing after she moved there. So, I guess it’s like the Olympics. You can represent a country even though you weren’t born there. You just have to have some connection to it.

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