Ingenious Pain: A Novel
In 1739 James Dyer is born. He never cries, does not speak until the age of eleven and, strangest of all, cannot feel pain. When smallpox destroys his family, he joins an itinerant quack who uses him to sell bogus medicine. Then a wealthy disciple of Newton discovers James, adds him to his collection of freaks, and parades him before the scientific establishment. With a quick and curious mind, James develops an interest in anatomy; by the age of twenty-one, after serving under a naval doctor at sea, he has established a highly successful medical practice in Bath. A brilliant surgeon James might be, but he is a cold and heartless one. Until, en route to St. Petersburg to inoculate the Empress Catherine against smallpox, he encounters a witchlike woman with natural healing powers who becomes at once his nemesis and savior.
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