I picked this book up on a whim and read it in nearly one sitting. Wheen sets the scene by describing how in the seventies a woman called Charlotte Bach persuaded Colin Wilson, among others, that she had formulated a theory of human evolutionary development which would rival the thinking of Darwin and Einstein and put her in the running for a Nobel prize. Personally, her ideas sound completely bonkers but her writings (typed all in capitals on hundreds of pages of orange paper) and lectures captivated many. It was only after her death that Bach's secret was revealed and prompted the recipient of her papers to investigate her past.
After this intriguing first chapter, Wheen starts with Bach's childhood as a boy in Hungary. From there we follow Karoly Hajdu (as he was then) through several changes of name, profession, and identity. To say more would spoil the many revelations dotted throughout the book but Wheen paints a colourful picture of what sounds like a rather unpleasant person. The reader is also sent back in time to post-war England, the Rachmanism of fifties London, and the intellectual milieu of seventies Hampstead. An added highlight is the glorious full-page colour photos of Hajdu experimenting with various female identities against the backdrop of a typical sixties flat.