The Cape Doctor: Book summary and reviews of The Cape Doctor by E. J. Levy

The Cape Doctor

by E. J. Levy

The Cape Doctor by E. J. Levy X
The Cape Doctor by E. J. Levy
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Book Summary

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 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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Reviews

Media Reviews

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There is no doubt that Dr. James Miranda Barry led a fascinating life, but I found this novelization plodding and the use of archaic words and phrasing inconsistent. This outweighed my interest in the book's important points about the performance of gender and its match (or not) with the body." - Rebecca Foster

Other Reviews
"Levy has done an absolutely superb job of novelizing Barry's life while her realization of him as a character is flawless. He is brilliant, impetuous, unafraid (perhaps foolishly) of making enemies in a good cause, an ardent supporter of women's rights and an equally ardent enemy of slavery...And the book is beautifully written." - Booklist (starred review)

"Levy delivers an elegant and provocative spin on the life of trans icon James Miranda Barry...Perry's narration brims with fascinating details about medicine and social mores of the time. This beautifully written work will spark much debate." - Publishers Weekly

"[O]ften reads like a Regency romance written by a 'literary' author. Levy uses language with care, and there are some beautiful scenes here—particularly those that show Perry discovering his vocation." - Kirkus Reviews

"The Cape Doctor is a rare achievement: equal parts brains and heart, a page-turner and a deeply moving exploration of precisely what it means to be human. E. J. Levy breaks open what we think we know about gender, identity, and love and shines a light on the devastating limits of each. I can't stop thinking about this gorgeous, thoughtful, heartbreaking book." - Lauren Fox, New York Times bestselling author of Send for Me

"The Cape Doctor does what the best novels do. It invites us to put aside our own lives for a time in order to live someone else's. And it repays the moral imagination that requires with something like wisdom." - Richard Russo, author of Chances Are...

"The Cape Doctor is one of those rare wonders of historical fiction: a novel that is so utterly transporting, so fully steeped in its time and place I kept looking up from the page and wondering where I was. And how did E.J. Levy do it? Was she there? The story of its hero Dr. Perry, an Irish woman practicing medicine under cover as a man in nineteenth-century South Africa raises powerful contemporary questions about the nature of border crossings – of gender, of class, and ultimately of love." - Sarah Blake, bestselling author of The Postmistress

This information about The Cape Doctor was first featured in "The BookBrowse Review" - BookBrowse's membership magazine, and in our weekly "Publishing This Week" newsletter. Publication information is for the USA, and (unless stated otherwise) represents the first print edition. The reviews are necessarily limited to those that were available to us ahead of publication. If you are the publisher or author and feel that they do not properly reflect the range of media opinion now available, send us a message with the mainstream reviews that you would like to see added.

Any "Author Information" displayed below reflects the author's biography at the time this particular book was published.

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More Information

E.J. Levy has been featured in Best American Essays, the New York Times, and the Paris Review, among other publications, and has received a Pushcart Prize. Her debut story collection, Love, In Theory, won the 2012 Flannery O'Connor Award and the 2014 Great Lakes Colleges Association's New Writers Award (previously awarded to Alice Munro and Louise Erdrich for first books); a French edition is forthcoming from Editions Rivages. Her anthology, Tasting Life Twice: Literary Lesbian Fiction by New American Writers, won a Lambda Literary Award. A graduate of Yale, she earned an MFA from Ohio State University, where she held a Presidential Fellowship; she teaches in the MFA Program at Colorado State University.

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