I received an advance copy of this book from the publisher.
There seems to have been a fascination with circuses and sideshows in recent years with such books as GEEK LOVE and WATER FOR ELEPHANTS. THE TRANSFORMATION OF BARTHOLOMEW FORTUNO provides a new addition to this genre. The book follows the life of human curiosity Bartholomew Fortuno who is billed as the world's thinnest man. Fortuno has made a life for himself as an exhibit in PT Barnum's museum. Fortuno and his fellow curiosities seem happy and content with their home and profession. Their world is thrown into chaos when a new human oddity arrives. Bearded lady Iell Adams seems to hold many secrets and Fortuno becomes enthralled with her. He risks everything to get closer to her and becomes caught in a power struggle between Barnum and his wife. Will Fortuno risk everything for love?
This book was very hard to put down. The characters were interesting and entertaining and I was drawn along by the mysteries surrounding Iell. Bryson manages to present these characters as average people with their own desires and problems who happen to have unique qualities that set them apart. The lives of these individuals as she presents it seem to be quite good. I liked the complications that Iell causes by her arrival although the extreme reactions of the different characters to her arrival seemed a bit hard to believe. By the end of the novel, it is somewhat obvious what the big twist will be but I still thought it was well done.
BOTTOM LINE: Recommended. Bryson gives us a peek into this world of human oddities while maintaining their humanity. She makes an interesting case about the difference between being able to choose one's path and having it thrust upon you. A very interesting read.