Debut author Elizabeth Schulte Martin is on the blog today with a multi-perspective fictional title surrounding a small, struggling, traveling circus. Please read on for my review of
Everything You Came to See
Strangely enough, this year appears to be starting with a series of different and often weirdly compelling reads, and this fits that bill perfectly. Told in three perspectives: a young man that defines himself as a clown, the ‘artistic’ director of this small traveling circus and a now retired performer – a giantess. Henry, Caleb and Adrienne use the progression of the story to share their own paths and lives, finding some definition of family and friendship along the way.
Insets that serve as rough staging points for acts that Henry dreams up after using his seemingly endless catalog of references of physical movement – from Buster Keaton to Jackie Chan and near everything in between – these scenes increase in complexity and imagination as the story continues. From moments from Henry as he grows from young boy to young performer – we see his journey to being a clown in the circus- his physical growth in abilities with a slow recognition of his own difficulties relating to the world around him.
Caleb views himself as an artist – he paints in the style of others – Beckmann is a particular favorite. Caleb tends to see life in picture frames: little pieces of things to deal with very rigidly defined boundaries he does not cross. He is the artistic director and manager of the circus – trying to keep the circus viable, paying for itself and organizing travel, booking sites and arranging permits. He’s married to Adrienne, a giantess due to a pituitary tumor, she was “circus’ and every one of the motley crew of performers knows her. She has her secrets though, and far from her own health worries, she’s one who is trying to build a family from the oddly connected people within the book.
This book was an interesting journey: the connections between the points of view were startling and often not clear early on as to why that moment is being shared. A smooth read it was not – jumping from issue to concern to new setting repeatedly, Moments also jumped from present to past: reliving and reviewing issues and traumas, current worries and always (in Henry’s case) a sense of remove from his own interaction and involvement with those around him. It’s a story that you have to be patient with: as much is tell with little show the emotions of the moment are slow-burning, taking a bit to settle and provide that punch one would expect from the moments described. Each of the characters is a searcher: searching for a perfect vignette, a family, security, beauty, and control: and they come together in this confluence of circumstance, good and bad, providing the setting in which all of these searches take place. Interesting as a debut offering, the story is more a study of lives interconnecting and effecting one another, and the speed with which these bonds are formed, realign and break.
Title: Everything You Came to See
Author: Elizabeth Schulte Martin
Genre: Historic Elements, Literary Fiction
Published by: Sky Horse Publishing
Published on: 23 January, 2018
Source: Publisher Via Edelweiss
Get Your Copy: Amazon ♦ Barnes&Noble ♦ iTunes ♦ IndieBound ♦ Google
Set just before the millennium in the dusty world of fire-eaters, tightrope walkers, and contortionists, Everything You Came to See follows Henry Bell, a talented new performer with a small traveling circus. Henry left behind the only family he ever knew, but among the other performers—and on the stage—he’s found a new home.
Though the circus was once a larger attraction, audiences have grown sparse and Caleb Baratucci, the show’s manager, knows they are on the verge of bankruptcy. Still, he’s determined to revive the circus—if only for the sake of the performers—and provide for his wife, Adrienne, a retired giantess facing a dangerous surgery.
Recovering at home and no longer a headlining act, Adrienne finds herself longing for the comfort of her circus family. When Henry strikes up a friendship with her, Adrienne’s loneliness eases, but Caleb senses that Henry’s feelings run deeper, and if not managed wisely, they could set off a chain of events that will threaten everyone—and everything—they hold dear.
Alternating between these three perspectives, Everything You Came to See is a sophisticated, touching novel exploring the families we’re born with, the families we create, and the tightrope we must walk between the two.
A copy of this title was provided via Publisher Via Edelweiss for purpose of honest review. I was not compensated for this review: all conclusions are my own responsibility.
Reading this book contributed to these challenges: