The Transformation of Bartholomew Fortuno: A Love Story by Ellen Bryson

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The Transformation of Bartholomew Fortuno: A Love Story by Ellen Bryson

Category: Historical Fiction
Rating: 4/5
Reviewer: Robin Leggett
Reviewed by Robin Leggett
Summary: With a cast of 'curiosities' from the days of PT Barnum's American Museum, this is always going to be a slightly more unusual love story. It's entertaining, imaginative and great fun.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 352 Date: February 2011
Publisher: Picador
ISBN: 978-0330533812

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Set in the days and months following the assassination of Abraham Lincoln, The Transformation of Bartholomew Fortuno is an inventive and highly entertaining story of the life of the curiosities performing in the great PT Barnum's great American Museum.

The story is narrated by Bartholomew, billed as the World's Thinnest Man. He's not the most likable of characters - he's snobbish about his gifts and his position in the hierarchy of curiosities. At the top of this class system are the True Prodigies (those born with physical abnormalities), then the Prodigies (where Bartholomew sees himself) who have unusual properties. Then there are the Exotics, like the rubber man Ricardo, and then the lowest of the low, Gaffs - little more than con artists whose decisions are taken to fool the public. Bartholomew believes that he educates the public and makes them think of their true nature rather than merely shocking them.

At it's heart, this is a classic story of an outside influence coming in to shake up the status quo causing the original players to question their position. What makes this so entertaining is that the status quo features the World's Thinnest Man, his best friend, the World's Largest Lady, a giantess, a strong man and a rubber man. And the outside influence comes in the form of an enigmatically beautiful, bearded lady. Not only does Bartholomew's obsession with this new act affect his relationship with his other performers, it also leads him to consider his own gifts and the source of those.

It's a very entertaining glimpse into a bygone world and is a very human story in an extraordinary world.

If you enjoyed this, then we feel sure that you will also love the terrific The Book of Human Skin by Michelle Lovric.

Buy The Transformation of Bartholomew Fortuno: A Love Story by Ellen Bryson at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy The Transformation of Bartholomew Fortuno: A Love Story by Ellen Bryson at Amazon.co.uk.


Buy The Transformation of Bartholomew Fortuno: A Love Story by Ellen Bryson at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy The Transformation of Bartholomew Fortuno: A Love Story by Ellen Bryson at Amazon.com.


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