Friday, August 20, 2010

New Release: The Transformation of Bartholomew Fortuno

Sometimes I have to remind myself to trust my instincts when it comes to books.  When I requested an ARC of The Transformation of Bartholomew Fortuno, I was sure that I would enjoy Ellen Bryson's first novel.  But then I started reading tepid reviews of it and I let them diminish my enthusiasm for the book.  Luckily, I came across a positive one and decided to finally pick up the book and decide for myself.  Not surprisingly, I really enjoyed this story.  This is why I try to avoid reviews of books I plan on reading and I should have remembered that in this case!

Bartholomew Fortuno is an employee of P.T. Barnum's American Museum, given his position due to his extreme thinness.  His friends are the other acts in the museum and he believes that they have all been given precious gifts that it is their duty to display.  When a new act joins the museum, Bartholomew falls instantly in love/lust with her and his world is turned upside down because of it.  He is forced to re-evaluate some of his long-held beliefs and also to remember some of his long-suppressed memories.

This was a fascinating book for so many reasons.  The setting was fantastic and the characters were complex and sympathetic.  Life was very different for these circus folk than for everyone else in society.  And yet, this novel shows that there were limits even to what these people were able to accept into their circle.  I thought the level of research for this book was very high and it made me curious to learn more about P.T. Barnum and the American Museum.

Leaving the big top after a compelling show,

Support our site and buy The Transformation of Bartholomew Fortuno on Amazon or find it at your local library.  We received an advance reader's edition from the publisher.


  1. That happens to me too. I have a friend who does not read any reviews of books until after she has read the book. It helps her to come in with a clean slate. Good advice if you can do it. (Not sure I can).

  2. Wallace - I don't think I can avoid them altogether either but I need to give them less weight until I've read the book myself!

  3. If you had to compare this one to Water for Elephants, would you say it was better, worse, or about the same? Or, have you even read that one? Are they even comparable?

  4. Tif - I haven't read Water for Elephants but people who have seem to find it comparable but think WfE is better. I seem to be lucky to have read this one first and now I have the "better" one to look forward to!

  5. Hmmm . . . I may still check this one out! You never know!! And, I did really enjoy WfE too!! I would definitely recommend that one!