The Transformation of Bartholomew Fortuno: A Novel

Where's this book been?
by Ellen Bryson | Literature & Fiction |
ISBN: 0805091920 Global Overview for this book
Registered by wingGoryDetailswing of Nashua, New Hampshire USA on 12/6/2016
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1 journaler for this copy...
Journal Entry 1 by wingGoryDetailswing from Nashua, New Hampshire USA on Tuesday, December 06, 2016
I found this good-condition hardcover at a local Savers thrift shop, and decided to give it a try. It's about "the world's thinnest man", who makes a living working for P. T. Barnum. (The character of Bartholomew seems to be fictional, but he's based on several real-life "living skeletons", including Isaac W. Sprague. Other characters in the story, from Barnum himself to several of his primary attractions, do seem to represent their real-life counterparts.)

While the premise was intriguing, I found the main character - who narrates - rather off-putting; he comments on the prejudices of others but reveals a fair amount of snobbery of his own, and has an annoying tendency to blab secrets while getting angry at others who reveal tidbits about himself. His relationship with the museum's fat lady and with the new, exotic bearded lady form the crux of the story, but it does seem to meander and didn't hold my interest throughout. I skimmed to the end to see how things worked out, and was pleased at some characters' endings, but overall I'd hoped for more from this concept. (The big-surprise reveal of the bearded lady's most deeply-held secret wasn't that much of a shock to me, though apparently it was to poor Bartholomew!)

I did appreciate some of Bartholomew's musings on the distinctions between choosing to be a freak and making the best of having been born that way, though this comes back to bite him when he starts to work out the truth behind his own syndrome.

[I read another novel based on one of Barnum's featured performers, The Autobiography of Mrs. Tom Thumb. I liked that one a bit more than this, fwiw.]

Released 3 yrs ago (12/7/2016 UTC) at Post Office bookswap shelf (UBCZ), 353 Middlesex Rd. in Tyngsboro, Massachusetts USA


I left this book on the book-swap shelf in the Tyngsboro post office lobby at around 2; hope the finder enjoys it and posts their thoughts here!

*** Released as part of the 2016 What's In A Name release challenge. ***

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