Archive for February 4th, 2011

Bartholomew Fortuno

The Transformation of Bartholomew Fortuno by Ellen Bryson.

Hardcover: 352 pages
Publisher: Henry Holt and Co.(June 22, 2010)
ISBN-10: 0805091920

From Publishers Weekly

Inspired by a vintage circus photograph, Bryson’s first novel tells the fictional story of the unusual relationship between two human curiosities from P.T. Barnum’s American Museum. Bartholomew Fortuno, the world’s thinnest man, is asked by Barnum to keep an eye on his latest acquisition—Iell Adams, the bearded woman, who is kept in seclusion until the impresario can introduce her to the world. Fascinated by her and desiring a transformative experience, Bartholomew falls hopelessly in love with Iell, much to the surprise of his fellow Curiosities. Bartholomew also gets caught in the middle of a war between Barnum and his jealous wife for control of Iell’s future. The story culminates at Barnum’s birthday party, where Bartholomew is shocked to discover Iell’s big secret. Though thin on plot, this work sympathetically conjures up the backstage world of Barnum’s museum and the pecking order of his Curiosities, and magically transports the reader back in time to Gilded Age New York.

This is a book one can real quickly.  I can’t say I loved it but it was a well written story of getting inside “the thinnest man in the world”, while feeling somewhat like you are finding out what it was like to be one of Barnum’s “freaks”.

Bartholomew Fortuno was “a side show” like all the others who worked for Barnum, but he saw his “thinness” as a gift, so he could show others and teach them.  But the truth is that the story is really about how Bartholomew fell in love, lost his friends, but found the truth about himself.  I don’t want to give too many details or I’d ruin the book for anyone who might want to read it.

The disappointing side was that it was a little on the boring side and I didn’t get a full feeling of “where I was”, or how New York looked like back then.  One of the few references to the timeline was that President Lincoln was murdered.

But, as I said it wasn’t a bad read and it had that one unexpected twist near the end of the book that was nice.  If you ever wanted to delve into a persons life because they were “different”, this book does just that.

I am happy that in the first 3 days of January I actually finished a book!  However, if I keep reading the book I thought I’d flip thru to see if I want to read it next, it could take most of the month to get thru it!!  I’m not sure I’ll continue it but I may!  It’s the Biography of Charles Dickens. I’ll decide today if it’s the chunkster or another book !

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