THE ELECTRIC WOMAN by Tessa Fontaine

I love great memoirs; they offer the most profound glimpses of humanity. Tessa Fontaine’s The Electric Woman engages the reader from the start, the fire-eating prologue, right through to the final descriptions of Tessa’s mother’s encounters with death. Ms. Fontaine expertly weaves themes of life, death, and family. It’s a page-turner that makes me ponder deeply about fear, grief, love, and especially—living a bold, electric life. Captivating. I love her quote, “The only way to do it is to do it. There is no trick.”

You can read about Gutsy Goddess—Tessa here.

Here’s what the books about. “Tessa Fountaine’s astonishing memoir of pushing past fear, The Electric Woman, follows the author on a life-affirming journey of loss and self-discovery—through her time on the road with the last traveling American sideshow and her relationship with an adventurous, spirited mother.

Turns out, one lesson applies to living through illness, keeping the show on the road, letting go of the person you love most, and eating fire:

The trick is there is no trick. 
You eat fire by eating fire.

Two journeys―a daughter’s and a mother’s―bear witness to this lesson in The Electric Woman.

For three years Tessa Fontaine lived in a constant state of emergency as her mother battled stroke after stroke. But hospitals, wheelchairs, and loss of language couldn’t hold back such a woman; she and her husband would see Italy together, come what may. Thus Fontaine became free to follow her own piper, a literal giant inviting her to “come play” in the World of Wonders, America’s last traveling sideshow. How could she resist?

Transformed into an escape artist, a snake charmer, and a high-voltage Electra, Fontaine witnessed the marvels of carnival life: intense camaraderie and heartbreak, the guilty thrill of hard-earned cash exchanged for a peek into the impossible, and, most marvelous of all, the stories carnival folks tell about themselves. Through these, Fontaine trained her body to ignore fear and learned how to keep her heart open in the face of loss.

A story for anyone who has ever imagined running away with the circus, wanted to be someone else, or wanted a loved one to live forever, The Electric Woman is ultimately about death-defying acts of all kinds, especially that ever constant: good old-fashioned unconditional love.”

To learn more about Gutsy Goddess—Tessa please click here. 

To learn about other Gutsy Goddesses please click here.

To learn more about The Electric Woman or order Tessa’s book click here.

PLEASE JOIN THE CONVERSATION. It’s strange to write and be uncertain if anyone’s reading. We would love to have you join the conversation. Please leave a comment about The Electric Woman and/or other Brave Books that you might recommend. Thanks so much and welcome to the tribe.


  1. Reminds me of the quote, “ Feel the Fear and do it anyway”! This book of her journey sounds absolutely fascinating!

    • So glad to hear from you Judith! Thanks for joining the conversation. The first three words sound like the start of a haiku.
      Tessa, Judith is a sister Gutsy Goddess who is also making a courageous journey. She and I write haikus to send to those we love at sea where the number of characters is limited.

  2. Wow! Tessa’s life certainly sounds like a wild variety of experiences and doing what you need to do by just making yourself do it. It’s difficult, as flawed humans, to practice unconditional love, but so well worth the effort.

  3. This will be a must-read! Thank you for sharing.

  4. The trick is there is no trick.
    You eat fire by eating fire.

    This quote is such a testament on how to overcome fear…it’s certainly a difficult thing…but Tessa you remind us that it is doable.

    • Judy, That’s so true. At the very start of Tessa’s book, I wanted there to be a trick. I wanted to learn the trick, to make it easier to face my own fear. Yet as I read further I wanted Tessa to succeed at managing her fear and doing it anyway. I guess it’s what I’m trying to do. For me, it became more and more inspiring. Anyway, I value your comment. Thanks for being part of the tribe.

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