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The Cape Doctor

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A "gorgeous, thoughtful, heartbreaking" historical novel, The Cape Doctor is the story of one man’s journey from penniless Irish girl to one of most celebrated and accomplished figures of his time (Lauren Fox, New York Times bestselling author of Send for Me).   Beginning in Cork, Ireland, the novel recounts Jonathan Mirandus Perry’s journey from daughter to son in order to A "gorgeous, thoughtful, heartbreaking" historical novel, The Cape Doctor is the story of one man’s journey from penniless Irish girl to one of most celebrated and accomplished figures of his time (Lauren Fox, New York Times bestselling author of Send for Me).   Beginning in Cork, Ireland, the novel recounts Jonathan Mirandus Perry’s journey from daughter to son in order to enter medical school and provide for family, but Perry soon embraced the new-found freedom of living life as a man. From brilliant medical student in Edinburgh and London to eligible bachelor and quick-tempered physician in Cape Town, Dr. Perry thrived. When he befriended the aristocratic Cape Governor, the doctor rose to the pinnacle of society, before the two were publicly accused of a homosexual affair that scandalized the colonies and nearly cost them their lives.   E. J. Levy’s enthralling novel, inspired by the life of Dr. James Miranda Barry, brings this captivating character vividly alive.


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A "gorgeous, thoughtful, heartbreaking" historical novel, The Cape Doctor is the story of one man’s journey from penniless Irish girl to one of most celebrated and accomplished figures of his time (Lauren Fox, New York Times bestselling author of Send for Me).   Beginning in Cork, Ireland, the novel recounts Jonathan Mirandus Perry’s journey from daughter to son in order to A "gorgeous, thoughtful, heartbreaking" historical novel, The Cape Doctor is the story of one man’s journey from penniless Irish girl to one of most celebrated and accomplished figures of his time (Lauren Fox, New York Times bestselling author of Send for Me).   Beginning in Cork, Ireland, the novel recounts Jonathan Mirandus Perry’s journey from daughter to son in order to enter medical school and provide for family, but Perry soon embraced the new-found freedom of living life as a man. From brilliant medical student in Edinburgh and London to eligible bachelor and quick-tempered physician in Cape Town, Dr. Perry thrived. When he befriended the aristocratic Cape Governor, the doctor rose to the pinnacle of society, before the two were publicly accused of a homosexual affair that scandalized the colonies and nearly cost them their lives.   E. J. Levy’s enthralling novel, inspired by the life of Dr. James Miranda Barry, brings this captivating character vividly alive.

30 review for The Cape Doctor

  1. 4 out of 5

    Liz

    I loved the premise of this story, inspired by the real life Dr. James Miranda Barry, who was discovered upon his death to be a woman. The story starts in the early 19th century, when James is actually Margaret Buckley. In the book, James Barry becomes Jonathan Perry Jonathan’s education at the University of Edinburgh is much more than just medical studies. He learns how to be a man of rank - to have the confidence, and oftentimes, arrogance of a man, but also how to take part in society. I appre I loved the premise of this story, inspired by the real life Dr. James Miranda Barry, who was discovered upon his death to be a woman. The story starts in the early 19th century, when James is actually Margaret Buckley. In the book, James Barry becomes Jonathan Perry Jonathan’s education at the University of Edinburgh is much more than just medical studies. He learns how to be a man of rank - to have the confidence, and oftentimes, arrogance of a man, but also how to take part in society. I appreciated Levy’s ability to give us a detailed time and place. I really enjoyed Perry’s attitude towards medicine - common sense based in an era when medicine more often killed than cured. In fact, much of her time in Cape Town was spent trying to stop druggists from selling fake medicines for profit. I will admit to getting a wee bit bored with the repeated references to her monthlies and the tactics necessary to hide the evidence. I was more questioning how she hid the more often need to urinate. As someone who has often thanked God to have been born when I was, I fully understood Jonathan’s need to consistently put brain ahead of heart. More than once, she had to make the decision to maintain the facade rather than opt for love. “That I had to give up the second greatest love of my life, Lord Charles, to preserve the first: not medicine, but the liberty of my own mind. The right to think and speak and move as I chose, not as others bade me. To experience life on my own terms. The only liberty worth the name.” Because in the end, this is a story of sacrifice. No one gets to live a life without regrets and Perry had more than his share of regrets. This is a highly engaging historical fiction. Levy did meticulous research to present us with this story and it shows throughout the book. My thanks to NetGalley and Little, Brown & Co. for an advance copy of this book.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Carolyn Walsh

    This was a fantastic story of the remarkable life of James Miranda Barry, who rose to the highest rank of Inspector General for British military hospitals. The story is incredible but is based on actual history. There is much of his story found on internet sites with antique photos and portraits of Dr. Barry. Those given dates and events clash somewhat with this historical fiction. I admired this well-written novel, its descriptions of the places, people, morals, beliefs, and customs of the era. This was a fantastic story of the remarkable life of James Miranda Barry, who rose to the highest rank of Inspector General for British military hospitals. The story is incredible but is based on actual history. There is much of his story found on internet sites with antique photos and portraits of Dr. Barry. Those given dates and events clash somewhat with this historical fiction. I admired this well-written novel, its descriptions of the places, people, morals, beliefs, and customs of the era. It presented a compelling and vivid picture of the times. However, I felt liberties were taken with the story of his life and struggles. It was told in the first person in Barry's voice, and I wondered if it presented a disservice to his memory by attributing imagined emotions, thoughts, and speculation to his story rather than focusing more on his important health reforms and professional career. He was born in Ireland to an impoverished, disunited family as a girl named Margaret. A wealthy uncle's influential friends tutored Margaret. They were astounded by Margaret's high intelligence and sharp mind. They conspired to have her admitted to Edinburgh University to study for a medical degree when women were forbidden to study to become physicians or practise as doctors. The year of Margaret's birth is usually given as 1789, but it was falsified several times and may have been 1795, so we don't know Dr. Barry's true age. In 1809 Margaret changed her name to James Miranda Barry, dressed as a boy, imitated masculine walk and bearing, and entered Edinburgh University. She was often mistaken for a boy too young to have entered such demanding courses, but powerful forces prevailed. From that time on until he died in 1865, Dr. Barry lived and was regarded as a man for more than 50 years. After obtaining his medical degree in 1812, he began his military career studying and assisting as a medical doctor in England. In 1816 he was transferred to Cape Town. After curing Governor-General Somerset's very ill daughter, he became a friend and personal physician to this very prominent and powerful man. During his time in Cape Town, he improved sanitation, the water supply, conditions for prisoners, lepers, and the mentally ill. He did the first recorded Caesarian operation in Africa, perhaps in the world, where both the mother and child survived. Military hospitals were improved for soldiers. He stirred up opposition by establishing rules where admission to medical or pharmaceutical practice required proper credentials. Dr. Barry was hot-tempered and argumentive, which caused him to gain enemies despite his renowned professional reputation for medical improvements. A rumor circulated accusing Barry and Somerset of having a homosexual affair. This could result in a death penalty for both but was dismissed. The book gives a quite different interpretation of these charges and what happened next. After leaving Cape Town, he travelled widely as the most senior Inspector General for British hospitals throughout the empire, including the West Indies and Canada. When he died, his body was undressed against his instructions. It was established that Dr. Barry was a female who had given birth. Recommended for those who enjoy historical biographies with emotional impact and some compelling medical history.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Erin

    It is always my pleasure as a voracious reader to be introduced to people that are finally having their stories being told. I loved this historical novel based on the life of Dr. James Miranda Barry. Our novel begins with E.J. Levy introducing us to Margaret, young Irish girl in the 19th century born into a poor family. It is soon realized that she is a "prodigy" and her mother and uncle aide Margaret in becoming Jonathan, a young man who will attend college. As the years pass, danger lurks at It is always my pleasure as a voracious reader to be introduced to people that are finally having their stories being told. I loved this historical novel based on the life of Dr. James Miranda Barry. Our novel begins with E.J. Levy introducing us to Margaret, young Irish girl in the 19th century born into a poor family. It is soon realized that she is a "prodigy" and her mother and uncle aide Margaret in becoming Jonathan, a young man who will attend college. As the years pass, danger lurks at every corner if the truth is discovered. I was completely hooked from the very first page and I thought the author kept up a great pace with the storyline. I was immersed in the medical passages of the novel and with many of the characters that the main character meets along. Publication Date 15/06/21 Goodreads review published 19/06/21

  4. 4 out of 5

    Mazz

    The author writes about a woman who was not allowed to be a doctor and so decided to live as a man in order to follow her dreams and make a difference in the world. The doctor never spoke or wrote about being trans, but people claim that acknowledging that she was a woman who lived as a man is harmful to modern trans people. Viewing the doctor as trans is just one perspective, and the author has even said on Twitter that part of the book also mentions that perspective. There is no direct proof o The author writes about a woman who was not allowed to be a doctor and so decided to live as a man in order to follow her dreams and make a difference in the world. The doctor never spoke or wrote about being trans, but people claim that acknowledging that she was a woman who lived as a man is harmful to modern trans people. Viewing the doctor as trans is just one perspective, and the author has even said on Twitter that part of the book also mentions that perspective. There is no direct proof of how the doctor identified, and so her actions can be interpreted in multiple ways without disrespecting other people. The doctor did not a want people to find out that she was a woman after her death, and that could be either because she identified as a trans man, or it could just as easily be because she wanted her professional accomplishments to remain respected after her death. That’s at least as likely, and frankly I believe much more. This book is from one perspective, and giving it poor ratings simply because you disagree with that perspective is absurd.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Linnea

    Author refuses to acknowledge the fact Barry was trans and continues disrespecting him by using the pronoun 'she', by Barry's own wishes. Author refuses to acknowledge the fact Barry was trans and continues disrespecting him by using the pronoun 'she', by Barry's own wishes.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Maureen Stanton

    This is an absolutely brilliant book. (The book has not been release, but I have read an advanced draft.) Levy is a gifted writer who breathed life into Dr. James Miranda Barry. I didn't want the book to end, or to leave the world that Levy created through deep historical research and compelling, witty, smart prose. Highly recommend. This is an absolutely brilliant book. (The book has not been release, but I have read an advanced draft.) Levy is a gifted writer who breathed life into Dr. James Miranda Barry. I didn't want the book to end, or to leave the world that Levy created through deep historical research and compelling, witty, smart prose. Highly recommend.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Jodi Paloni

    I highly recommend this book. It's clear to me that years and years of research and thoughtfulness have gone into this project. Levy's writing is top notch. The writer has a strong command of her material. The novel brings to light an interesting story, one that I had not known about before this, and the topic is timely in today's conversations about gender identity. I highly recommend this book. It's clear to me that years and years of research and thoughtfulness have gone into this project. Levy's writing is top notch. The writer has a strong command of her material. The novel brings to light an interesting story, one that I had not known about before this, and the topic is timely in today's conversations about gender identity.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Laura

    In trying to find "feminist historical figures" this author has in their entitlement only cared about erasing and harming the trans community, which is clear from the book blurb and author's twitter. In trying to find "feminist historical figures" this author has in their entitlement only cared about erasing and harming the trans community, which is clear from the book blurb and author's twitter.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Sarah-Hope

    The Cape Doctor, by E.J. Levy, is a wonderful read, but before I discuss the book, I want to discuss background a bit. (Warning: the pronouns will shift around some.) The Cape Doctor tells the imagined life story of a real historical figure about whom very little is known: Dr. Jonathan Mirandus Perry. Perry attended medical school in Edinburgh, then became a military doctor posted in South Africa and later in Jamaica. He was ahead of his time in insisting on sanitation and nutrition; he fought q The Cape Doctor, by E.J. Levy, is a wonderful read, but before I discuss the book, I want to discuss background a bit. (Warning: the pronouns will shift around some.) The Cape Doctor tells the imagined life story of a real historical figure about whom very little is known: Dr. Jonathan Mirandus Perry. Perry attended medical school in Edinburgh, then became a military doctor posted in South Africa and later in Jamaica. He was ahead of his time in insisting on sanitation and nutrition; he fought quack remedies and their makers; he performed the first known successful C-section on the continent of Africa. After Perry's death, it was discovered that his body was, apparently, female. This final revelation has led to two very different interpretations of Perry's life. One view, held by those looking for a feminist historical narrative, presents Perry as female-identified, despite passing as a man for most of their life. They see Perry's story as a demonstration of the ridiculous lengths women had to go to in the early 19th Century in order to achieve an education and profession. Another view is that Perry was transsexual, identified as male, and should be considered a ground-breaking figure in LGBTQI+ history. The Cape Doctor is built around the first of these views. Levy presents Perry as a woman who spent her life passing as a man in order to achieve personal goals. Radical transgender web site EE Ottoman takes the second view, making the case for Perry's male identity: https://acosmistmachine.com/2015/11/2... The disagreement about Perry's identity has led to a very bifurcated response to The Cape Doctor. Those who see (or are comfortable seeing in the context of a novel) Perry as female are generally enthusiastic about the book. Those who see Perry as transgendered see this book as an erasure of transgender history. My take—although I am saying this as someone who is not a historian and who is just beginning to learn about Perry—is that neither case can be made conclusively enough to prove the other false. If I had to guess how Perry identified themselves (and it would be a guess), I'd say that Perry probably was transgendered, but I can also understand why Levy chose Perry as a character to serve as the center of a novel exploring alternate female identities in the 19th Century. That's as far as I'll go with this discussion, aside from saying I'm looking forward to reading more about Perry and seeing what (pronoun shift) their life can teach me about both female and trans identity. I flat-out loved The Cape Doctor. Levy is very clear that what she is writing is fiction, and I'm willing to approach the novel knowing it can't tell me how Perry themselves identified. I loved The Cape Doctor for the insights it offered into female identity. Perry as created by Levy is very articulate and deeply reflective. Her (pronoun shift) inner world is complex. She notes the changes in bearing and personality she has to develop to be perceived as male: assertiveness, self-confidence, an aggressive sense of humor, an insistence on defending her own views—which includes arguing for women's rights. She's fascinated by the way women approach her once she's perceived as male and enjoys flirting with them. Levy gives her version of Perry opportunities to renounce her decision to present herself to the world as female, which Perry does not embrace. Perry's focus in this novel is always on being a medical practitioner and having the freedom of movement and opinion that external male identity provides. Don't read The Cape Doctor as history. Don't assume you know the "real" Perry once you've read it. But do, if possible, let yourself learn from the ruminations on gender and identity that Levy's Perry raises. If you want to know about the historical Perry, look for nonfiction titles that explore what we can know about who he/they/she really was.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Lex

    I never leave reviews on Goodreads, but I want to clarify for this one: this is on my ‘read’ shelf only because I couldn’t mark it 1* any other way, and zero doesn’t seem to be an option. Even in the seemingly unlikely event the author backtracks from her position of assuming Dr Barry’s a woman — which the historical record refutes — I still wouldn’t pay to support someone who’s so against ‘facile gender categories’ (from the author’s Twitter) that she, err… insists on putting Dr Barry in the wr I never leave reviews on Goodreads, but I want to clarify for this one: this is on my ‘read’ shelf only because I couldn’t mark it 1* any other way, and zero doesn’t seem to be an option. Even in the seemingly unlikely event the author backtracks from her position of assuming Dr Barry’s a woman — which the historical record refutes — I still wouldn’t pay to support someone who’s so against ‘facile gender categories’ (from the author’s Twitter) that she, err… insists on putting Dr Barry in the wrong category.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Fate's Lady

    This is a horribly disrespectful take that portrays a historically acknowledged trans man as a cross dressing woman for the purposes of furthering trans exclusionary agendas.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Morgan

    I’m at Chapter 2, page 61. I cannot finish this book. I find the writing style off-putting. If ever there was a book that should not be written in the first person, this is it. It is presumptuous to do so. I am interested to know more about Dr. James Miranda Barry but I’ll find a different book.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Nancy

    I read this novel in one day. It was a windy, gloomy day. But that is not why I read it in one day. I read it in one day because I did not want to stop reading. I loved the narrative voice, the feeling of being transported back several centuries, the knowing wink to the style of the early 19th c in lines like "No one who had ever seen Margaret Brackley in her infancy would have supposed her born to be a heroine (or so Jane Austen might have written of her..." I was interested in the questions the I read this novel in one day. It was a windy, gloomy day. But that is not why I read it in one day. I read it in one day because I did not want to stop reading. I loved the narrative voice, the feeling of being transported back several centuries, the knowing wink to the style of the early 19th c in lines like "No one who had ever seen Margaret Brackley in her infancy would have supposed her born to be a heroine (or so Jane Austen might have written of her..." I was interested in the questions the narrator struggled with, about choice and chance, gender identity, the gap between male and female autonomy and self-determination. Which of us is undisguised, after all? Which of us reveals himself truly to the world. ~from The Cape Doctor by E. J. Levy The Cape Doctor is based on the true story of a woman who posed as a man to gain an education and become the first female doctor. She performed the first recorded, successful Cesarean operation by a European in Africa, both mother and child surviving. Levy's character is inspired by the historical Barry, but Levy gives her own spin to the story, concentrating on the feminist issues. Her Dr. Perry lives as a man, but identifies as female. (Another character is hermaphrodite, which some believe Barry was, while others believe Barry was transsexual. Those controversies do not affect my reading of this novel, as this is historical fiction inspired by true events, and not a biography.) Under Levy's hands, the imagined character Margaret Brackley becomes Dr. Jonathan Mirandus Perry. She tells her story of transformation from a subservient and invisible female to an authoritative and competent professional man of society. In dire poverty, Margaret's mother sends her to beg aid from her uncle. There, she meets General Mirandus, who takes an interest in her brilliant mind. After her uncle's death, the general sends her to be educated in Edinburgh's esteemed medical school with plans for her to become his personal physician in Caracas. Margaret cuts her hair and binds her breasts and dons a boy's clothing. She learns to lower her voice, to change her actions and her attitude, to mimic. She learns how to masquerade, how to pass. As Dr. Perry, she becomes a successful army doctor in Cape Town, with at least one young lady falling in love with her. When her true sex is discovered, she has a love affair and must chose between love and her career, and more importantly, "the right to think and speak and move as I chose, not as others bade me. To experience life on my own terms." I thought of Mary Wollstonecraft, another brilliant woman who was also against marriage, whose love affairs were scandalous. As a first-person narrative in the style of the early 19th c, Margaret/Perry speaks to issues of identity and freedom, often in pithy epigrams. And most are quite timeless. Including, "You can judge a culture by its medicine, by how it teats is most vulnerable--the ill." It is interesting to learn that the Cape Doctor is the name for a strong wind that today blows away the pollution over Cape Town and provides waves for perfect surfing, but which was believed to also blow away bad spirits, healing the town. And that fair weather comes after the blow. I received a free egalley from the publisher through NetGalley. My review is fair and unbiased.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Stuart

    I'm eagerly looking forward to reading this book once it's released! What a remarkable life James Barry must have led, wide-ranging and still deeply reserved - biologically a woman, but living life as the man she had to be to pursue her brilliant career. I know this novel is the product of long research as well as imagination, and am excited to see what E. J. has made of it! I'm eagerly looking forward to reading this book once it's released! What a remarkable life James Barry must have led, wide-ranging and still deeply reserved - biologically a woman, but living life as the man she had to be to pursue her brilliant career. I know this novel is the product of long research as well as imagination, and am excited to see what E. J. has made of it!

  15. 5 out of 5

    J. Annie

    I was fortunate enough to receive an advance copy of this novel, and I can attenst that it is breathtaking in scope and vivid in its language. As with Levy's other work, especially her story collection *Love, In Theory*, the prose is almost poetic--and her story captivating. Put simply, E. J. Levy's *The Cape Doctor* is not a book to be missed. I was fortunate enough to receive an advance copy of this novel, and I can attenst that it is breathtaking in scope and vivid in its language. As with Levy's other work, especially her story collection *Love, In Theory*, the prose is almost poetic--and her story captivating. Put simply, E. J. Levy's *The Cape Doctor* is not a book to be missed.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Bookoholiccafe

    She Died, So I might live. The Cape Doctor by E.J. Levy is a brilliant book. It is a story of a woman who decides to live as a man in order to enter medical school and become a doctor. The story is inspired by the true story of Dr. James Miranda Barry. I really enjoyed reading Margaret Buckley’s journey and how she fought to stop the druggist from selling fake medicines that were killing people, for their own profit. I liked learning about her inner thoughts and found them remarkably interesting. I She Died, So I might live. The Cape Doctor by E.J. Levy is a brilliant book. It is a story of a woman who decides to live as a man in order to enter medical school and become a doctor. The story is inspired by the true story of Dr. James Miranda Barry. I really enjoyed reading Margaret Buckley’s journey and how she fought to stop the druggist from selling fake medicines that were killing people, for their own profit. I liked learning about her inner thoughts and found them remarkably interesting. I’ve read so many mixed reviews about this book. My rating is based on my opinion of the story. Many thanks to Little, Brown, and Company for my gifted copy. #bookoholiccafe #readthisbook #readersofinstagram #Booksofsummer #ke

  17. 5 out of 5

    Jenn Schuberth

    The Cape Doctor by E.J. Levy The Cape Doctor is the story of a doctor who was born Mary, became Jonathan, and lived a life full of pleasure and disappointment, and along the way found a cure for syphilis, saved thousands of lives, and received the highest rank a military surgeon could obtain in the mid-nineteenth century. Jonathan is based on the real life of Doctor James Barry. The first third of the book recounts Jonathan’s education in Edinburgh and London and is a love letter to the pleasures The Cape Doctor by E.J. Levy The Cape Doctor is the story of a doctor who was born Mary, became Jonathan, and lived a life full of pleasure and disappointment, and along the way found a cure for syphilis, saved thousands of lives, and received the highest rank a military surgeon could obtain in the mid-nineteenth century. Jonathan is based on the real life of Doctor James Barry. The first third of the book recounts Jonathan’s education in Edinburgh and London and is a love letter to the pleasures of the mind. “There was a kind of greed in me for learning, a passion that seems to have taken the place of the erotic desire others claimed to feel.” Levy expertly captures the giddy excitement of a young person coming to believe their opinions matter, and the intensity one can feel towards studying: “Together we embarked on our frenzied, half-ecstatic preparations, the orgy of intellectual self-absorption that is among the chief pleasures of academic training.” The remainder of the book is chiefly concerned with Doctor Perry’s relationship with Lord Somerton of Cape Town. While this reads as a Victorian romance (fans of Jane Austen will find it satisfying), Jonathan refers to Lord Somerton as “my friend” throughout, using “lover” only twice, and then only with reference to himself: “I was surprised by the delight I took in my new role of lover.” In Somerton’s presence, Perry feels, “multiplied,” rather than diminished. Somerton quite literally “sees” Perry; he knows his secret, which could get Perry court martialed or killed. However, Levy spends very few lines on their physical relationship, instead focusing on Jonathan’s reflections on relationships themselves. “It was not Lord Somerton’s romantic interest that I coveted, but his attention. Above all, his love.” In Perry’s own time, the scandal (and yes, there was one) of this relationship was about two men having a sexual relationship. By focusing very little on the physical aspects of their time together, Levy avoids reinscribing the voyeurism of such a scandal in her own text, and instead shifts the reader’s attention towards the unique and universal struggles of Jonathan, who like all of us, was constantly groping to figure out how he wanted to be loved. The novel also creates philosophical distance by giving Jonathan a voice from beyond the grave. In recounting one of his friend’s cruelties, Jonathan tells us, “The dead know what happens, not why.” In death, the doctor continues questioning, observing and doubting, but this literary device is also used to throw the act of interpretation back on us as readers: “We treated imaginary bodies. We still do; to some extent, the body is a figment of the imagination of its time.” Is this “we” a 19th century we? Or we the readers? Yes. Both. In one instance, Doctor Perry’s desire to study local plants, leads to an aside about names: “The naming of things was a passion for me then—as I had rechristened myself and in so doing been remade. Names had an incantatory quality, seemed a species of magic. Only later, much later, would I recognize the horror of this, how names can fix and contain, diminish and delimit: call a person a woman or a man and we think we know what we are seeing, but do we?” These philosophical flashbacks bubble up and then subtly recede from the ongoing story and are used effectively to draw our attention to and destabilize categories important to both Jonathan and to us: gender, love, identity, friendship, pleasure. Because of Jonathan’s intellectual training, they don’t feel tacked on, but rather organic to his mind and integral to his self. Doctor Perry is telling us what happened, but like us, he is still trying to figure out, why.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Beatrix Starling

    First of all my deep thanks to @Netgalley for an early audiobook copy of The cape doctor This was a wonderful book, it was an absolute pleasure to listen! The writer has a great vocabulary and it made for an engaging, somewhat poetic read. The book is based on Dr Perry, who was a famous physician of the British Empire in the 19th century. He had 2 major achievements: as a doctor, he made vast improvements in his field; and as a woman, he managed to conceal his birth gender all of his life. Of the First of all my deep thanks to @Netgalley for an early audiobook copy of The cape doctor This was a wonderful book, it was an absolute pleasure to listen! The writer has a great vocabulary and it made for an engaging, somewhat poetic read. The book is based on Dr Perry, who was a famous physician of the British Empire in the 19th century. He had 2 major achievements: as a doctor, he made vast improvements in his field; and as a woman, he managed to conceal his birth gender all of his life. Of these two achievements, the book concentrates on the aspect of a woman who had to become a man to help his/her family and to be able to become a doctor. The focus is on this journey, and it is a welcome one. Throughout history, many females had to crossdress and remake themselves as men for survival, for a quality life. I love how the book describes this journey - though at times it became a touch too sentimental. I did miss more focus on the medical achievements, that sadly took second place, but it was touched upon. Would have dearly loved to read more details. Ps: I'm aware of the unavoidable controversy within the trans community, and i saw with dismay how many 1 star reviews popped up before the book was even available. To be honest it angered me - there is no proof of Dr Perry being transgender, what he did was more likely a necessity and not a choice. History is peppered with women who needed to act as men to be heard - some may have been transgender but with historical figures it cannot be said. It is important that women's achievements are celebrated, and not get lost again behind "more important" agendas.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Colin Raunig

    Inspired by the real-life Irish physician James Barry, born as Margaret Ann Bulkley, The Cape Doctor follows the journey of Jonathan Mirandus Perry, who must live as a man in order to study and practice as a medical doctor. The novel is a first-person account of Perry's life, told retrospectively. From the beginning, I was struck by the voice of the narrator, which is rich, emotionally acute, and sounds accurate. If I didn't know any better, I would have thought it was actually written by someon Inspired by the real-life Irish physician James Barry, born as Margaret Ann Bulkley, The Cape Doctor follows the journey of Jonathan Mirandus Perry, who must live as a man in order to study and practice as a medical doctor. The novel is a first-person account of Perry's life, told retrospectively. From the beginning, I was struck by the voice of the narrator, which is rich, emotionally acute, and sounds accurate. If I didn't know any better, I would have thought it was actually written by someone who lived in the 19th century. By being entrenched in Perry's point of view, we see and experience life as Perry does, and feel the difficulty that living in such a socially backwards time must have been like, not to mention while practicing as a medical doctor. Levy does an excellent job maintaining the narrative tension throughout the novel and as Perry moves through life. The question of whether Perry will be discovered as a man is a constant, and we are kept on the hook by the knowledge that such discovery could be punishable by death. But more than that, Levy keeps the reader interested by Perry's humanity and humaneness. Don't get me wrong, Perry is not portrayed as a saint, and has flaws inherent to the human condition, but the positive affect Perry has on most everyone was quite heartening to read, and a reminder of how a single person can touch the lives of so many, even while living under marginalized conditions wrought by systemic injustice. Perry's story is an inspiring and fascinating one and is a must read for everyone.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Nina Furstenau

    I absolutely loved this vivid book written by an author with not only a deft touch with detail, but an ability to transport readers to a specific historical period with beautifully rendered scenes. The 19th century cultural atmosphere feels real, oddly current, and is fraught. Reading Levy’s words lays bare how small actions are often those that define us—especially affecting is how they can be honed to alter perceptions of who we are. The Cape Doctor is wonderfully detailed and inviting. I was I absolutely loved this vivid book written by an author with not only a deft touch with detail, but an ability to transport readers to a specific historical period with beautifully rendered scenes. The 19th century cultural atmosphere feels real, oddly current, and is fraught. Reading Levy’s words lays bare how small actions are often those that define us—especially affecting is how they can be honed to alter perceptions of who we are. The Cape Doctor is wonderfully detailed and inviting. I was immersed quickly in the world of the 19th century surgeon and the unforgettable story of his life.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Becky Zagor

    AMAZING read both for the beautiful writing and the multiple questions it raises. Deeply moving emotionally to try and understand the desire to preserve a world created as a man & physician and the entitlement that permitted. Unimaginable to have to make the choices made and pain associated with either choice. As a nurse, I also appreciated all the context around medical situation/treatment and cures. An unexpected DIAMOND for my summer reads!

  22. 5 out of 5

    Anneke

    Book Review: Cape Doctor Author: E.J. Levy Publisher: Little, Brown and Company Publication Date: 6/15/21 Review Date: 6/25/21 I received a free copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. From the blurb: “A "gorgeous, thoughtful, heartbreaking" historical novel, The Cape Doctor is the story of one man’s journey from penniless Irish girl to one of most celebrated and accomplished figures of his time (Lauren Fox, New York Times bestselling author of Send for Me).   Beginning in Cork Book Review: Cape Doctor Author: E.J. Levy Publisher: Little, Brown and Company Publication Date: 6/15/21 Review Date: 6/25/21 I received a free copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. From the blurb: “A "gorgeous, thoughtful, heartbreaking" historical novel, The Cape Doctor is the story of one man’s journey from penniless Irish girl to one of most celebrated and accomplished figures of his time (Lauren Fox, New York Times bestselling author of Send for Me).   Beginning in Cork, Ireland, the novel recounts Jonathan Mirandus Perry’s journey from daughter to son in order to enter medical school and provide for family, but Perry soon embraced the new-found freedom of living life as a man. From brilliant medical student in Edinburgh and London to eligible bachelor and quick-tempered physician in Cape Town, Dr. Perry thrived. When he befriended the aristocratic Cape Governor, the doctor rose to the pinnacle of society, before the two were publicly accused of a homosexual affair that scandalized the colonies and nearly cost them their lives.   E. J. Levy’s enthralling novel, inspired by the life of Dr. James Miranda Barry, brings this captivating character vividly alive.” ——— This is an absolutely gorgeous historical novel. The style in which it was written is just beautiful. Not only beautiful language and imagery, but also the way the sentences and paragraphs were written. The characters are written with great depth, the place and time very accurate, and the plot flowed like a river. The ending was quite sad and sobering. If you like to read historical novels, I highly, highly recommend this book. A very satisfying read. Thank you to Little, Brown and Company for giving me access to this exceptional book, and best of luck to E.J. Levy. This review will be posted on NetGalley and Goodreads. #capedoctor #ejlevy #littlebrown #transgender #historicalnovel

  23. 5 out of 5

    Sylvia

    4.5. Outstanding historical fiction about a woman who dresses and pretends to be a man so she can become a doctor and support herself and her mother. Beautifully written and memorable.

  24. 4 out of 5

    pawsandpagesbyannie

    The Cape Doctor by E. J. Levy Narrated by: Mary Jane Wells Publication Date: June 15, 2021 . Description “E. J. Levy’s enthralling novel, inspired by the life of Dr. James Miranda Barry, brings this captivating character vividly alive.”   “Beginning in Cork, Ireland, the novel recounts Perry’s journey from daughter to son in order to enter medical school and provide for family, but Perry soon embraced the new-found freedom of living life as a man. From brilliant medical student in Edinburgh and London The Cape Doctor by E. J. Levy Narrated by: Mary Jane Wells Publication Date: June 15, 2021 . Description “E. J. Levy’s enthralling novel, inspired by the life of Dr. James Miranda Barry, brings this captivating character vividly alive.”   “Beginning in Cork, Ireland, the novel recounts Perry’s journey from daughter to son in order to enter medical school and provide for family, but Perry soon embraced the new-found freedom of living life as a man. From brilliant medical student in Edinburgh and London to eligible bachelor and quick-tempered physician in Cape Town, Dr. Perry thrived. When he befriended the aristocratic Cape Governor, the doctor rose to the pinnacle of society, before the two were publicly accused of a homosexual affair that scandalized the colonies and nearly cost them their lives.” . Thank you to @netgalley @hachetteaudio @littlebrown @hgbcanada for the ALC in return for my honest review. . My thoughts… Eye-opening historical fiction. The narrator was okay, but the story was jaw-dropping. I really enjoyed listening to the life of Dr. Jonathan Mirandus Perry and what he went through to accomplish his goals. Wow, this was sacrifice and hard work defined. This book was inspired by the life of Dr. James Miranda Barry. His early life details are unclear. He was probably born as female, with the name Margaret Anne Bulkley. After his death, it was reported that he was assigned female at birth. He was born in Cork, Ireland in 1789 and when he embarked on a voyage to the University Edinburgh in 1809, to study medicine, he was already using his chosen name. His life is so interesting, that I know I will research more about it. This book certainly peaked my interest. The story was thought-provoking, truly heartbreaking and a profound narrative on identity.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Claire

    I received The Cape Doctor as part of a NetGalley giveaway. Dr. Jonathan Mirandus Perry was a skilled and renowned physician. Entering the field of medicine to save his family from penury, he accepted posts throughout the British Empire, demanding better conditions for the poor and oppressed. But behind his professional success, Dr. Perry holds a secret, one that would threaten to destroy the life and career he has built for himself, and one that, once uncovered, . Based on the life of Dr. James I received The Cape Doctor as part of a NetGalley giveaway. Dr. Jonathan Mirandus Perry was a skilled and renowned physician. Entering the field of medicine to save his family from penury, he accepted posts throughout the British Empire, demanding better conditions for the poor and oppressed. But behind his professional success, Dr. Perry holds a secret, one that would threaten to destroy the life and career he has built for himself, and one that, once uncovered, . Based on the life of Dr. James Miranda Barry, The Cape Doctor explores issues of gender, identity, and status in the 19th century British Empire through the lens of a brilliant, complex, and still-somewhat-elusive person. This was a fascinating read about a fascinating historical figure. I don't know enough about the real-life Dr. Barry to address the accusations of transphobia that others have leveled at the author, so I'll try to I'll say that in the review. The story was poignant and really fascinating; I had no idea about Barry's place in history and the sheer breadth of what he accomplished was really impressive. From what I've read, I feel like Levy did a good job of adapting Barry's story in a historically-accurate way while still being able to put her own spin on it. I did think the story lagged a bit in the middle, and I wasn't wild about Somerton as a person: I thought he treated James terribly, and while I understand he was bound by the strictures of the times, I didn't understand James' ongoing loyalty to him and the conviction that he was somehow heads and tails above all other people. That said, I think its shortcomings are well worth it to introduce readers to Dr. Barry's story.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Celeste Miller

    The Cape Doctor Thank you to the publisher and the author for the opportunity to read this advance copy. I have really been loving historical fiction more than usual this last year, and this book joins the list.  It is based on the true story of Dr. James Miranda Berry who performed the first recorded successful c-section in the 1820s, and who was a military surgeon in postings all over the British commonwealth for multiple decades. The most interesting thing, and the reason this book was writte The Cape Doctor Thank you to the publisher and the author for the opportunity to read this advance copy. I have really been loving historical fiction more than usual this last year, and this book joins the list.  It is based on the true story of Dr. James Miranda Berry who performed the first recorded successful c-section in the 1820s, and who was a military surgeon in postings all over the British commonwealth for multiple decades. The most interesting thing, and the reason this book was written in my opinion, is that Dr. Barry was discovered to be anatomically female after his death, and that his body showed signs of having borne a child. Historians have published books about him that include some information about his childhood when he was a girl. To go to medical school, be in the military, be a doctor, would all have been illegal at the time for a woman.  This novel is a fictionalized account of a Dr. Perry, written in the first person as a reflection of his life.  The writing is excellent. I read that it took the author 10 years to finish the novel, and I can tell that so much research and so much attention to detail went into this. I immediately felt as if I were transported to 1790s England, early 1800s Capetown, and an early 1800s medical school.  The medical info alone is incredible and very well researched. The imagined reasons for why Dr. Perry lived as a man were thought-provoking, and the exploration of the sacrifices he made were heartbreaking. 

  27. 5 out of 5

    Leta McWilliams

    Absolutely loved this book. The discussion of gender and identity was so subtle yet so honest, and I gained a deep perspective on so many things I didn’t expect to.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Tiffany Silverberg

    I love a good book that is based on a true story. In this account of the real life of Dr. James Miranda Barry, the author imagines the struggles of a woman that is hiding her identity from the world. I'm sure that some parts are quite "close to the mark", and the good doctor is a sympathetic character. Perhaps though, the first person narrative borders on the presumptuous? I did enjoy the book and I highly recommend it! I love a good book that is based on a true story. In this account of the real life of Dr. James Miranda Barry, the author imagines the struggles of a woman that is hiding her identity from the world. I'm sure that some parts are quite "close to the mark", and the good doctor is a sympathetic character. Perhaps though, the first person narrative borders on the presumptuous? I did enjoy the book and I highly recommend it!

  29. 4 out of 5

    Janelle

    Take your time with this truly mesmerizing debut novel based upon the life of a woman living her life as a man who pioneered medical breakthroughs as a result of the privilege gained by claiming their place in the world of men. As you might notice, I’m struggling with pronouns, sometimes using feminine and sometimes switching to a broader non-gendered their. This novel is based on the life of Dr. James Miranda Barry, an individual born and raised as a female who overcame the limitations imposed Take your time with this truly mesmerizing debut novel based upon the life of a woman living her life as a man who pioneered medical breakthroughs as a result of the privilege gained by claiming their place in the world of men. As you might notice, I’m struggling with pronouns, sometimes using feminine and sometimes switching to a broader non-gendered their. This novel is based on the life of Dr. James Miranda Barry, an individual born and raised as a female who overcame the limitations imposed on their life simply due to gender. Due to the passage of time and the culture of Barry’s early nineteenth century English life, we lack context to how they viewed their gender, whether the life they claimed was a matter of defying misogynistic limitations forced upon women, or whether it was a matter of their identity. I know much about sexual and gender identity and as a reader struggled with how to view this amazing person’s life and sense of who they were as a consequence of my own sensitivity to gende3r identity mores. Despite the obvious hurdles that we have today to view Dr. Barry, Levy successfully navigates the morass and peppers the novel with wonderful insights about gender as true today as they were in Barry’s time. Levy has given us a beautiful novel that offers us a different lens to view gender without the limitations imposed by revisionist history and today’s culture wars. If you care at all about the accomplishments of women two centuries earlier, and wish to ponder both the culture of their time and ours, this book allows readers to thoughtfully consider questions that still limit women today.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Jo-jean Keller

    An interesting and relevant read about a turbulent time and an incredible situation!

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