in the UK
At the dawn of the Enlightenment, James Dyer is born unable to feel pain. A source of wonder and scientific curiosity as a child, he rises through the ranks of Georgian society to become a brilliant surgeon. Yet as a human being he fails, for he can no more feel love and compassion than pain. Until, en route to St Petersburg to inoculate the Empress Catherine against smallpox, he meets his nemesis and saviour.
Publisher and industry reviews
'A wild adventure through 18th-century England and Russia, medicine, madness, landscape and weather, rendered in prose of consummate beauty.' -- Independent Books of the Year 'Dazzling ... Miller tackles notions of mortality and humanity to brilliant effect ... truly wonderful' -- Evening Standard 'Astoundingly good ... it shines like a beacon among the grey dross of much contemporary fiction' -- The Times 'A really remarkable first novel, original, powerfully written ... Miller's narrative is gripping and his imagination extraordinary.' -- Sunday Telegraph 'A timeless and thought-provoking fable about human nature ... It is something very rare in modern fiction, a true work of art.' -- Spectator 'Strange, unsettling, sad, beautiful, and profound' -- Literary Review
UK Kirkus review
James Dyer is a strange baby. He doesn't cry or speak until he is 11 - and he can feel no pain. Born in 1739, to a family that is wiped out by smallpox, he is taken in by an itinerant quack who uses him to sell bogus medicines, and then handed over to a scientist who adds him to a collection of freaks. James's quick mind enables him to study anatomy and by the time he is 21 he has served as a naval doctor and acquired a medical practice in Bath, from where he sets out on a journey to Russia to inoculate Catherine the Great. James's insensitivity affects his soul as well as his body. His lack of the experience of pain has bred a total lack of emotion. In Russia he meets a witch-like beauty whose healing powers melt this imperviousness to life. A startlingly mature, gifted first novel. (Kirkus UK)
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