Author: Ellen Bryson
Title: The Transformation of Bartholomew Fortuno
Description: Bartholomew lives in P.T. Barnum’s American Museum as one of the “oddities”—the thin man. He’s quite content with his life there, and believes that he has been given a gift which he shares with the public who come to view him. He has a close, though non-romantic, relationship with the fat lady, Matina. Everything changes, though, when a new, top-secret curiosity comes to the museum.
Review source: I think I got this at ALA.
Plot: The new curiosity (Iell) is a source of mystery throughout the book. The plot revolves around Bartholomew’s reaction to her and the changes in his life as a result.
Characters: I couldn’t quite wrap my head around the strong attraction Bartholomew feels for the new girl. Part of it is the mystery, but there is nothing in the book that makes her seem so wonderful. Matina is described in much more attractive terms. I do like how the characters in the museum come across as real people regardless of the role they play in the sideshow.
Writing style: I couldn’t help but compare this book to The Autobiography of Mrs. Tom Thumb which I read fairly recently. The Barnums come across differently in each book, but they are really the only characters the books have in common. I liked the Autobiography better, I think, because it was more historical fiction, less mystery. And the mystery in this one is sort of a letdown.
Audience: Despite the fact that I keep referring to a mystery, this book isn’t a mystery. It mostly has a mysterious character. But I’d call it literary fiction.
Wrap-up: This book was fairly much of a disappointment, since I didn’t like Bartholomew, didn’t like Iell, and felt like the “payoff” was a letdown. 3/5*