“Orphans of the Carnival is the story of a time when the oddities of nature could be a lucrative path to fame and fortune. Although heartbreaking, it is the wonderful journey of a talented woman who just wants a normal life, in spite of being alternately vilified and celebrated. Filled with many unforgettable characters and amazing writing, this is a book that will stay with readers for a long time.”
— Mary McBride, Rainy Day Books, Fairway, KS
Pronounced by the most eminent physician of the day to be "a true hybrid wherein the nature of woman presides over that of the brute," Julia Pastrana stood apart from the other carnival acts. She was fluent in English, French and Spanish, an accomplished musician with an exquisite singing voice, equally at ease riding horseback and turning pirouettes-but all anyone noticed was her utterly unusual face. Alternately vilified and celebrated, Julia toured the world, often hobknobbing with high society as she made her fame and fortune. Beneath the flashy lights and thunderous applause lies a bright, compassionate young woman who only wants people to see beyond her hairy visage-and perhaps, the chance for love. When Julia visits a mysterious shaman in the back alleys of New Orleans, he gives her a potion and says that she'll find a man within the year. Sure enough, Julia soon meets Theodore Lent, a boyishly charming showman who catapults Julia onto the global stage. As they travel the world, the two fall into an easy intimacy, but the question of whether Theo truly cares for Julia or if his management is just a gentler form of exploitation lingers heavily with every kind word.
About the Author
Carol Birch's most recent novel, "Jamrach's Menagerie," was long-listed for the Orange Prize and short-listed for the Man Booker Prize. Previously she was long-listed for the Man Booker Prize and won the Geoffrey Faber Memorial Prize, and the David Higham Award.