In a series of interwoven fictionalized stories, Deborah Noyes gives voice to the marginalized women in P. T. Barnum's family -- and the talented entertainers he built his entertainment empire on.
Much has been written about P. T. Barnum -- legendary showman, entrepreneur, marketing genius, and one of the most famous nineteenth-century personalities. For those who lived in Barnum's shadow, however, life was complex. P. T. Barnum's two families -- his family at home, including his two wives and his daughters, and his family at work, including Little People, a giantess, an opera singer, and many sideshow entertainers -- suffered greatly from his cruelty and exploitation. Yet, at the same time, some of his performers, such as General Tom Thumb (Charles Stratton), became wealthy celebrities who were admired and feted by presidents and royalty. In this collection of interlinked stories, Deborah Noyes digs deep into what is known about the people in Barnum's orbit and imagines their personal lives, putting front and center the complicated joy and pain of what it meant to be one of Barnum's "creatures."