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6 Reviews
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The best book I've read all year
Whoever is marketing this book should be shot. I haven't see any blurb, bumf or reviews about it anywhere - which is a total sin as it is a cracking story, exquisitely written and totally original. It really is a classic and they should be shouting about it from the roof-tops. Get it for yourself - you'll want to read it over and over again.
Published on 18 Aug 2000

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4 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars James Miranda Barry
An interesting book when it eventually got going. Far too much time was spent on the childhood ?where does this information come from. Being a factual book it's hard to digest what might have been in childhood without some substantial evidence. However her life within the military would have been documented to a degree and therefore some embellishment was acceptable.That...
Published on 27 Feb 2004


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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The best book I've read all year, 18 Aug 2000
By A Customer
This review is from: James Miranda Barry (Paperback)
Whoever is marketing this book should be shot. I haven't see any blurb, bumf or reviews about it anywhere - which is a total sin as it is a cracking story, exquisitely written and totally original. It really is a classic and they should be shouting about it from the roof-tops. Get it for yourself - you'll want to read it over and over again.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Tiny, perpetually frozen hands, 10 Sep 2009
By 
Eileen Shaw "Kokoschka's_cat" (Leeds, England) - See all my reviews
(TOP 1000 REVIEWER)    (REAL NAME)   
This review is from: James Miranda Barry (Paperback)
A beautifully crafted, sumptuous and compelling story is revealed in this wonderful book, based on a real person - a surgeon and medical innovator who was revealed upon his death to be a woman.

James Miranda Barry was the child of Mary Anne Bulkeley, an Irish woman who became the mistress of a peer of the realm, Lord Erskine and, at various times was also the mistress of General Francisco de Miranda, a Venezuelan adventurer who fought for Napoleon, and the lover, or so it was rumoured, of her brother, James Barry, a famous and respected painter. Any of the above could have been the father of James Miranda Barry, or it is just possible that Mary Anne's husband, Bulkeley, fathered the child. All of these speculations are based on real people and real events in the eventful life of James Miranda Barry.

The novel begins with a plunge into the life of the child - educated to a high standard by the General, living at the time on Lord Erskine's estate and in thrall to a kitchen maid, Nora Jones, but terrified of irascible Uncle James, who locks himself away to paint, but sometimes emerges to terrorise and energise the general household. Then comes the fateful moment when the child has reached an age where decisions have to be made about her future. The three men meet at the centre of the maze on Erskine's estate and send for James Miranda Barry. It has been decided, at Mary Anne's suggestion, that they will finance and support a medical career for this precocious and highly intelligent child, but she will, of necessity, henceforth be known forever as a man.

The writing is gorgeous - splendid at setting the scene and revealing the psychology of the characters, deeply knowledgeable and researched, but lightly and deftly presented on the page as part of the story. James Miranda Barry receives his medical education in Edinburgh, spends time with the dying James Barry in London, is posted to a garrison on the South African coast where he has a cholera epidemic on his hands, then travels to the West Indies where he is present at the slave revolts in Jamaica. At the end of the book he returns to London, where he meets up once again with the remarkable Alice Jones, who is now an actress.

There are mysteries and intrigues galore but it is the character of James Miranda Barry which fascinates and enthrals the reader. Accepted everywhere as a man, even given his diminutive size and tiny, perpetually frozen hands, a crack shot (he fought duels and one in particular which ended in a lifelong friendship with his adversary) and subject to the privations of primitive hospital conditions - where he was revolutionary in his methods - and accepted in colonial society, where he was the subject of much interest with the ladies. It is a deliciously beguiling, richly descriptive book and a literary achievement of the highest order.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A fascinating book on a fascinating person, 29 Dec 1999
By A Customer
This review is from: James Miranda Barry (Paperback)
Let's begin it like this: I work in a bookshop where there are three booksellers. We've got a completely different taste and usually disaggree on whixh books we like. But when one of us was asked to recommend a book this christmas season (and we're ofttimes asked for recommendations during that periode of time, as you may imagine), everyone of us recommended »James Miranda Barry«, as one of the most beautiful books we had ever read. And, in most cases, we sold the book, then. It's brilliant. The style is great, there's a power and magic in these words that leaves you speechless for a while. And the plot is great. There has really been a James Miranda Barry, and he was, most likely, a woman, who attracted both men and women though he (?) lived as a man for most of his live. People always wondered about Dr. Barry's sex, but he was never involved in any scandals about it. It's the story of a person who, bereft of a sexual identity, lives in danger of losing her whole identity. This may sound kitschy. But believe me - it's impüossible to write a kitschy book about someone who has ice cold fingers all of the time. Just read this book. Then, you'll understand.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Superb, 4 Aug 2003
By 
RG (Glasgow United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
This review is from: James Miranda Barry (Paperback)
A wonderful book which approaches its inherently intriguing subject from a unique, original and wholly unexpected perspective. Always manages to avoid the obvious. The quality of the writing is also stunningly good. Definitely one of my top reads of 2003.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars This is a really amazing book,a feast for the mind, 13 Nov 2000
By A Customer
This review is from: James Miranda Barry (Paperback)
I really enjoyed this book it took me I while to get through but by the end I could't put it down. It is a story of an amazing journey through a tough life. The fact that it is partially true makes it even better.
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4 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars James Miranda Barry, 27 Feb 2004
By A Customer
This review is from: James Miranda Barry (Paperback)
An interesting book when it eventually got going. Far too much time was spent on the childhood ?where does this information come from. Being a factual book it's hard to digest what might have been in childhood without some substantial evidence. However her life within the military would have been documented to a degree and therefore some embellishment was acceptable.That said the writing of Patricia Dunker was excellant and was therefore an enjoyable read
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James Miranda Barry
James Miranda Barry by Patricia Duncker (Paperback - 21 Mar 2003)
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