- Explore more great deals on thousands of titles in our Deals in Books store.
|Amazon Price||New from||Used from|
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. Fans of Water for Elephants are sure to want to enter this wondrous midway attraction of a novel. (July)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
"It must have been something, America at the end of the Civil War, and debut novelist Bryson imagines it beautifully in her inspired drama about freaks, showmen and the forces that twist our insides. Opening just after the assassination of Abraham Lincoln, the curtains part to reveal a sideshow within a spectacle, namely the singular attraction that was Barnum's American Museum in New York City, owned by narcissistic showman P.T. Barnum. . . . Bartholomew is a wonderful character who doesn’t struggle against his self-image but revels in it, challenging audiences with his bravado. . . . A rich tapestry of romance, illusory science, criminal trickery and human intrigue. Let the show begin."—Kirkus Reviews
"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. Fans of Water for Elephants are sure to want to enter this wondrous midway attraction of a novel."—Publishers Weekly
"Debut novelist Bryson has concocted fascinating historical fiction about one of showman P.T. Barnum's 'curiosities' who worked in the confines of Barnum's famous American Museum in lower Manhattan in the mid-19th century.... Bryson is a natural storyteller, and the fascinating interpersonal dynamics of her enticing characters keep readers' interest.... A strong first novel—recommended."—Library Journal
"Bryson, a proverbial ringmaster, delves deep into context, roping the assassination of Lincoln, scents of Chinatown, and heart-wrenching human misconceptions into poetic prose that captures the attention of ladies and gentleman, boys and girls of all ages."—Daily Candy
"Rich with magic.... Uncovering Iell's secrets leads Fortuno to expose his own, and this subtle but profound transformation casts a spell over the narrative until the last pages. Novel and character are awakened by the magnetic Iell, who makes Fortuno feel 'empty and full at the same time. Hungry and satiated.' By the end of the novel, readers should feel that way, too."—Christine Thomas, Miami Herald
"Riotous and touching.... It’s one delicious story."—Ann La Farge, The Hudson Valley News
"Ellen Bryson has found a doozy of a story to tell, and she tells the hell out of it. Earnest, accurate, entertaining—this book lets us peek into the life of a great circus, and the great circus of life itself."—Darin Strauss, author of More Than It Hurts You and Chang and Eng
"Ellen Bryson's The Transformation of Bartholomew Fortuno is an atmospheric and enthralling story of one of the great, lost legends of New York."—Kevin Baker, author of Strivers Row and Dreamland
"The Transformation of Bartholomew Fortuno brings alive the curious world of P. T. Barnum's American Museum in 19th century New York, transforming in the process the freaks and prodigies into heart-breaking people. Bryson is bedazzling, a real writer of extraordinary bravado."—Keith Donohue, author of Angels of Destruction and The Stolen Child
"Ellen Bryson is a truly gifted storyteller whose debut novel transports the reader through time and into history itself, into characters with strange bodies but all-too-human hearts. I was hooked by every act, all the way to the novel’s big reveal. Like Barnum’s museum, this book deserves a plethora of visitors looking for educational entertainment."—Cathy Day, author of The Circus in Winter
"I cannot remember another first novel as deftly written, as emotionally charged, as transporting as this one. Ellen Bryson's breathtaking debut makes us all believe anew in the power of love."—Ann Hood, author of The Knitting CircleSee all Editorial Reviews
The plot unfolds slowly and deliciously evoking a time and place that is both familiar and completely unfamiliar while eliciting empathy for Fortuno and his strange companions. Read morePublished 1 month ago by LaDonna
I read a LOT of historical fiction, and I also enjoy books with the circus, carnivals, and yes, Barnum as a background. This book seemed like it would be a winner for me... Read morePublished 3 months ago by Joe Hohmann
Tedious and long winded. never knew where the story was going and at some point didn't care. Glad to have reached the last pagePublished on June 9, 2013 by cactuscritter
I absolutely loved this book! Major praise to Ellen Bryson for creating this story! The characters are so real and full of personality - I love Bartholomew! Read morePublished on August 30, 2012 by Emery Sproman
This is like a confession to the author.
So, I'll start it out like this--
When I began reading this, I was grinning from ear to ear. Read more
This was such a fascinating novel that brought us behind the scenes of a museum that showcased odd specimens and performers that were likely also viewed as sideshows at circuses. Read morePublished on August 17, 2011 by Joanne Long
It is the basic concept of Ellen Bryson's novel, "The Transformation of Bartholomew Fortuno," that stands this story on its ear. Most of us have probably known about Phineaus T. Read morePublished on April 13, 2011 by Jim Duggins, Ph.D.
Maybe I am naive but I was completely surprised by the ending of THE TRANSFORMATION OF BARTHOLOMEW FORTUNO.
I appreciated the verisimilitude. Read more
I've read Water for Elephants: A Novel and thought this novel might be somewhat like it.
However, it is a story of its own and interesting and odd one at that. Read more