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The Autobiography of Mrs. Tom Thumb (Melanie Benjamin) – Review

The Autobiography of Mrs. Tom Thumb A Novel.The Autobiography of Mrs. Tom Thumb: A Novel by Melanie Benjamin
Age: Adult
Genre: Historical 
Publication date: July 27th, 2011
Publisher Delacorte Press, 2011
ISBN: 9780385344159
448 pages

Back cover synopsis:

A two-foot, eight-inch tall dynamo, Mercy Lavinia Warren Bump lived a remarkable life that reaches out t us more than a century later. Taken under the wing of the immortal impresario P.T. Barnum, married to the tiny superstar General Tom Thumb in the wedding of the century, she charmed riverboat gamblers and bewitched the rich and powerful.

Although I hate using the back cover synopsis for my reviews, I felt I had to in this case. There is so much going on in this book, that its hard to think of a way to sum it all up. To say its about Mercy Lavinia’s life (Vinnie was her preferred nickname), is an understatement. It takes us back to a time forgotten in American history. Vinnie’s life story guides us before, during and after the civil war. I thought the author did an effortless job weaving in moments of history throughout the course of the novel. Vinnie interacts with different dignitaries and notable names throughout the course of her career and life with P.T. Barnum’s traveling show.

I did sob at certain points in the book, and I did feel terrible that Vinnie could never let her guard down, even with her husband. Keeping people at arm’s length was her biggest source of protection. At times it made her a very harsh and cold person. It was hard to see her vulnerabilities because she would never let herself think of them. She was incredibly strong-willed and was not afraid to speak her mind.

Its taken me a month to review this book because the final image of General Tom Thumb, Vinnie’s sister Minnie, and the entire life that she lived left me feeling very…melancholic. Winnie deserved a life filled with love, but she always kept her guard up and strong.

This is a wonderful book of American history, of the unknown and forgotten celebrities of an era only remembered by injustice, violence and war. This book is a  reminder of why America is so unique, and that even if you are less than 3-feet tall, its still possible to have dreams big enough to take you across the ocean onto a world tour.

Useful Links

Book 33 of 2011

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