I’ve finally finished this lengthy book! This was a delightful read, but a bit too long in my opinion.
We see very little of Barnum, considering it’s his museum.His absence is felt more than his presence and Ana feels it more keenly than most. She takes it upon herself to organize the performers to petition for better working conditions, trying to become more than just the world’s only “working giantess.”
Emile finds himself and his true calling in caring for the menagerie that Barnum imports to the museum, finding that there is more to life than taxidermy and perhaps even finding love in the process. He becomes much more of a likeable character as the books goes on, becoming more human and more 3-dimensional.
According to Wikipedia, Barnum’s museum burned to the ground on July 13, 1865 and this is the climax of the book as well. Apparently the animals leapt from the building during the fire and were shot by police. In the book, Ana is our heroine. While she did not exist in real life, there is so much truth to her story that it reads like a memoir.
I recommend this book if you enjoy sweeping historicals. I certainly enjoyed it!