About This Blog

This blog was started as a place to post book reviews. The books reviewed here will be mixed. Science Fiction, Fantasy, Romance, General Fiction, NonFiction and more. Both positve and negative reviews will be posted, as well as reviews for books written for all ages and all reading levels.

Many of the books reviewed here are ones that I have purchased for my own reading pleasure. Some, I receive free in exchange for reviews. Beginning in December, 2009 you will know which are the free ones if you read the final paragraph of my reviews.

Also of note: I choose what I will read, attempting to avoid the books on which I would end up writing a negative review... but I have been known to make mistakes. Thus you see some one and two star reviews here. Since I don't enjoy writing negative reviews, I only write them if the review was promised, or if the book was so exceedingly bad, I just had to say so. Regardless of the percentage of positive to negative reviews on this blog, I give my honest opinion each and every time, and have never received financial compensation for posting my reviews.

Note that, except for fair use portions quoted from some of the books reviewed, all copyright in the content of the reviews belongs to Lady Dragoness.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Historical Fiction With A Circus Feel...

The Transformation of Bartholomew Fortuno
Ellen Bryson
Henry Holt and Co. (2010)
Paperback ARC, 350 pages
Rated 4 stars of 5 possible.

Well before he became associated with circuses, P.T. Barnum owned a museum in lower Manhattan, which he called Barnum's American Museum. Barnum specialized in amusements and oddities. He liked to seek out and employ those who were different than the norm.  Bearded ladies, fat ladies, thin men, strong men, Siamese twins, any and all who could boast of being or doing something unusual. This is the story of the thinnest man in the world, who proudly boasts that his unusual body is a gift. The story follows Fortuno as he becomes discontented with his life as a performer and his transformation from an oddity to a normal human being.

From the first page, The Transformation of Bartholomew Fortuno has the flavor of a circus sideshow, despite Fortuno and his colleagues making quite clear that working in Barnum's museum is (to their point of view) better than working in a circus. The reader is captured early on and does not escape from this page-turning adventure before the last page is done. Parts of the story are told through newspaper clippings and correspondence, included as illustrative material rather than merely described.  These epherma contribute a genuine historical feel to the novel, lending an air of authenticity which would otherwise be lacking.

Following the usual acknowledgements and about the author blurb at the back of the book, there is an essay about how the author came to write this novel. The essay is as interesting as the novel itself, and provides a bit of background that helps make the story come alive for the reader. I didn't find this essay until I had finished the main story, but some readers might like to read the short material first, others could view it as a spoiler, meant to be read last, if at all.

Recommended to readers of historical fiction, and even to those who just like a good story. This review has been simultaneously published on Dragon Views, LibraryThing and Amazon.com

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