Among the Wonderful by Stacy Carlson
The year is 1842, the city is New York, and P.T. Barnum has come to town to breathe some life into what was formerly a natural history museum by including performance, illusion, and spectacle. As he travels around the globe to find unusual specimens of living creatures — including human examples of far-flung native populations — his initial cluster of human anomalies begin their work as spectacle.
In her truly unforgettable novel, author Stacy Carlson takes us back to a time and place we’ll not see the likes of again. Telling the story of the museum is Ana Swift, a giantess, who is hired as an oddity to be displayed, and Emile, the museum’s taxidermist. Between these two perspectives, the reader is transported to a world of exceptional humans (in every way) who live together on the fifth floor of the museum.
Their world is geographically small, but at the same time boundless, as their backgrounds, histories, and the stories they share are unique. From this small confinement come such themes as self-discovery, love, family, and bitter betrayal. Among the Wonderful shines a spotlight on a slice of life in a special time that is now lost to us, but one that anyone will recognize as truly American.
Steerforth/Random House; ISBN 978-1-58642-184-7; $24.99.
Among the Wonderful: Reading Group Guide