In this stunning work of historical fiction, the Booker Prize–nominated author of Jamrach’s Menagerie reimagines the incredible true story of Julia Pastrana, a woman branded a freak at birth. Although she was pronounced by the most eminent physician of the day to be “a true hybrid wherein the nature of woman presides over that of the brute,” Julia was fluent in English, French, and Spanish, and an accomplished musician with an exquisite singing voice. Alternately vilified and celebrated, all she wanted was for people to see beyond her hairy visage—and perhaps, the chance for love. When Julia meets a charming showman who catapults her onto the global stage, she believes that she has found true happiness at last. But the question of whether her lover truly cares for her—or if his management is just a new form of exploitation—lingers heavily. A deeply moving novel, in Orphans of the Carnival Carol Birch has crafted a haunting examination of how we define ourselves and, ultimately, of what it means to be human.