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 also 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'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 of profound ideas and immense storytelling power.