The Transformation of Bartholomew Fortuno, by Ellen Bryson, is the first book this year that I was unable to finish. It saddens me because it sounds so promising! And in the Author's Note, she mentions Angela Carter's Nights at the Circus, which receives unanimous praise (or at least praise from Ana and Claire). But this one just didn't work for me.
Bartholomew Fortuno is an act at PT Barnum's New York City museum; he is the world's skinniest man and believes he and the other museum acts have great gifts to share with the world. One night, a mysterious new act arrives and Barnum seems obsessed with knowing all about her movements. He enlists Fortuno to keep tabs on the new woman, and also run some tasks for him in Chinatown. And... that's all I know as I stopped reading right around that time.
I am not sure why this book didn't work for me. It is historical fiction, involves circus freaks and has a mystery. But from the start, I just wasn't interested, and I don't think this is a case of reading the book at the wrong time for me. Bartholomew Fortuno's "gift" of weighing less than 70 pounds really disturbed me. I am sure that this weight problem of his is a main tenet of the story and would be resolved later on, but I just couldn't come to grips with it. Also, Fortuno wasn't a particularly scintillating character for me. He was pretty boring and I didn't sympathize with him or his problems (which seemed overblown, in my opinion) much at all. So it took very little time for me to feel completely disengaged, and with so many other books calling to me from the shelves, well... I decided this one just wasn't the book for me.
That said, though, I only got about 1/3rd of the way through it, so maybe it picks up after that! If the premise sounds interesting to you, then you should give it a go and see what you make of it. The book comes out in August.
This (non-)review is based on an advanced readers' edition. I received this book for free to review.