James Miranda Barry by Patricia Duncker
At the turn of the nineteenth century, ten-year-old James Miranda Barry enrolled as a medical student in Edinburgh, the start of a glorious career as a military surgeon. Across the Empire, Barry achieved fame not only as a brilliant physician, but as a legendary duellist, and a celebrated social figure. But James Miranda Barry was also a woman. Her greatest achievement of all had been to 'pass' for a man for more than fifty years. Patricia Duncker traces Barry?s life and career across three continents, and through an extraordinary and vivid collection of characters. The Venezuelan revolutionary general with enormous moustaches and a poetry addiction. The shabbily eccentric English aristocrat and his serpent lookalike sister. And Alice Jones - the ruthless and gorgeous kitchen-maid - all brown legs, black curls and ambition, who Barry loves instantly and forever. Patricia Duncker's novel tells Barry's story for the first time, in a richly inventive and entertaining tale of dark family secrets, adultery, questioned paternity and colonial history. It confirms her rare talent as a writer with profound ideas and a very good story to tell.