Monday, August 22, 2011

The Autobiography of Mrs. Tom Thumb by Melanie Benjamin

Book Description:
“Never would I allow my size to define me. Instead, I would define it.”

She was only two-foot eight-inches tall, but her legend reaches out to us more than a century later. As a child, Mercy Lavinia “Vinnie” Bump was encouraged to live a life hidden away from the public. Instead, she reached out to the immortal impresario P. T. Barnum, married the tiny superstar General Tom Thumb in the wedding of the century, and transformed into the world’s most unexpected celebrity.

Here, in Vinnie’s singular and spirited voice, is her amazing adventure—from a showboat “freak” revue where she endured jeering mobs to her fateful meeting with the two men who would change her life: P. T. Barnum and Charles Stratton, AKA Tom Thumb. Their wedding would captivate the nation, preempt coverage of the Civil War, and usher them into the White House and the company of presidents and queens. Show More But Vinnie’s fame would also endanger the person she prized most: her similarly-sized sister, Minnie, a gentle soul unable to escape the glare of Vinnie’s spotlight.

Before reading this book, I knew very little about Lavinia Warren other than the fact that she was married to General Tom Thumb. In this well-imagined look at her life, Melanie Benjamin recreates a unique time in American history populated by larger-than-life characters (no matter what their size). Once I started this engaging book, I simply couldn't put it down. Combining historical fact with well-researched creative license, Benjamin crafted a highly enjoyable work of historical fiction. This book is a must-read for anyone who enjoyed Alice I Have Been or who enjoys the early history of the circus.

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