Reading Questions for Among the Wonderful by Stacy Carlson
12. Barnum's business practices are still taught in business schools today. How would you describe his showmanship, and why do you think his strategies persist?
13. How would you describe the Australian tribesman? What role does he, as well as the Native Americans, play in the book? How does the depiction of indigenous culture function in the book?
14. Metamorphosis, or transformation, is a central theme of the book. Which characters undergo transformations? What about the museum itself?
15. Among the Wonderful is set in antebellum New York City. How would you describe the language of the book? Does it draw you into the time period or keep you at a distance?
16. Which historical details in the book surprised you? What cultural aspects of Barnum's world do you find familiar in our culture today?
17. What narrative techniques does the author employ to tell the story of Ana Swift's life?
18. How do Guillaudeu's and Ana Swift's stories intertwine at the book's conclusion, and how does this cast each of their lives in a different, new light?
19. What is Barnum trying to prove with his Grand Ethnological Congress of Nations? How is Ana's perception of the event different from Barnum's? Guillaudeu's? How would such a congress be met today?
20. Consider the intersecting and meandering themes of class, gender and minority that wend their way through the book. How does the mid-19th-century social and cultural environment surrounding these issues contrast with today's milieu? Which characters or events could easily appear in today's America without raising eyebrows?
Read O's review of Among the Wonderful
See which books made O's 2011 summer reading list