Ellen Bryson's The Transformation of Bartholomew Fortuno has been called 'an inspired drama' with a 'rich tapestry of romance, illusory science, criminal trickery and human intrigue.'

Take a look at some of the reviews that have been coming in so far.


'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

'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 Rowand 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

'Fans of Water for Elephants will adore The Transformation of Bartholomew Fortuno, Ellen Bryson's tender, humane novel about the transformative power of love.' Lisa Tucker, author of Once Upon a Day and The Promised World

'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 Circle

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