A barnstorming novel of the Gilded Age, and of a woman s public triumphs and personal tragedies, The Autobiography of Mrs Tom Thumb is the irresistible epic of a heroine who conquered the country with a heart as big as her dreams and whose story will surely win over yoursIn her national bestseller Alice I Have Been, Melanie Benjamin imagined the life of the woman who inspired Alice in Wonderland Now, in this jubilant new novel, Benjamin shines a dazzling spotlight on another fascinating female figure whose story has never fully been told a woman who became a nineteenth century icon and inspiration and whose most daunting limitation became her greatest strength 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 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 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 A barnstorming novel of the Gilded Age, and of a woman s public triumphs and personal tragedies, The Autobiography of Mrs Tom Thumb is the irresistible epic of a heroine who conquered the country with a heart as big as her dreams and whose story will surely win over yours


10 thoughts on “The Autobiography of Mrs. Tom Thumb

  1. Heidi The Hippie Reader Heidi The Hippie Reader says:

    The Autobiography of Mrs Tom Thumb is a historical fiction based on the real life of Lavinia Bump Warren, an extraordinarily small person.Lavinia participated in P.T Barnum s museum, traveling acts and circus, becoming one of the most popular acts of her era Her wedding to Charles Stratton, another little person, was such a huge story that it bumped the Civil War from the front pages for a time.Melanie Benjamin speculates at the end of the book that Lavinia had a pituitary gland problem and t The Autobiography of Mrs Tom Thumb is a historical fiction based on the real life of Lavinia Bump Warren, an extraordinarily small person.Lavinia participated in P.T Barnum s museum, traveling acts and circus, becoming one of the most popular acts of her era Her wedding to Charles Stratton, another little person, was such a huge story that it bumped the Civil War from the front pages for a time.Melanie Benjamin speculates at the end of the book that Lavinia had a pituitary gland problem and today would receive appropriate treatment But, in the 1800s, no such treatment existed.As a journalist, I appreciated the actual stories and newspaper headlines from the time period It shows just how far we ve come and how the public appetite for sensational stories has never changed.Benjamin writes a heroine that is so easy to love Lavinia is different but determined, small and brave She doesn t let her size define her and always seeks to be a proper lady, even when those around her aren t minding their manners.This book was sad in that, because of her deformity, Lavinia had very few options Early in her life, she felt as if she either had to display herself as a freak or depend upon her family in a backwater town where nothing ever happened.In some ways, she never fit in to a world that was simply too big for her I can t imagine how difficult that must have been.But in other ways, Lavinia traveledthan any woman of her era would be expected to She experienced a world beyond the reach of all but the ultra rich and privileged There was a high price to be paid for it, but I don t think Lavinia would have had it any other way.Benjamin wrote in an unlikely twist in the story that I thought was unnecessary and it soured the ending of the book for me I understand why she did it but it felt like a bridge too far, especially when the author admits at the end that there was nothing in the historical record to support her creative decision The Autobiography of Mrs Tom Thumb becomes repetitive in Lavinia s traveling years I felt as if I was reading the same thing over and over again.But I did learn a great deal about Lavinia Warren, Charles Stratton and P.T Barnum How extraordinary that these people even existed It seems like a piece of American history that has been all but forgotten.Recommended for readers who enjoy historical fiction novels about people overcoming adversity and about heroines who won t give up, no matter the odds or size of the problem


  2. Susan (aka Just My Op) Susan (aka Just My Op) says:

    If you don t see the A Novel part of the title, don t confuse this novel for an autobiography or a biography Ms Benjamin aka Melanie Hauser has taken the bits of available knowledge about Mrs General Tom Thumb s life, and woven it into a fictionalized and highly entertaining story Apparently, the actual autobiography readlike a travelogue and was a bit boring.At 32 full grown, Vinnie did not want to be defined by her size, wanted to make her own way in the world Unfortunately, th If you don t see the A Novel part of the title, don t confuse this novel for an autobiography or a biography Ms Benjamin aka Melanie Hauser has taken the bits of available knowledge about Mrs General Tom Thumb s life, and woven it into a fictionalized and highly entertaining story Apparently, the actual autobiography readlike a travelogue and was a bit boring.At 32 full grown, Vinnie did not want to be defined by her size, wanted to make her own way in the world Unfortunately, there were few options for almost all women other than housewife, school teacher, or spending a life dependent on family It was no comfort when a doctor consulted by her parents when she was a child likened Vinnie to an excellent example of Nature s Occasional Mistakes He assured my increasingly distressed parents that this was not a bad thing, for it made the world a muchinteresting place, just as the occasional two headed toad and one eyed kitten did How strange that a woman who didn t want to be defined by her size ended up with a career based solely on her size And that her marriage, from her point of view anyway, was littlethan a publicity stunt Stunt or not, Vinnie became Mrs Colonel Tom Thumb And she dragged her even tinier sister, Minnie, into the farce as well.I very much enjoyed this book However, I don t think I would have liked Vinnie very much, at least not as she was portrayed She was very adamant about being treated as an adult woman should be, yet she treated her sister, and then her husband, as though they were children She was bossy and sometimes demanding, often judgmental when she hated being judged herself Vinnie was complex and full of contradictions.There were some writing quirks that bothered me a bit I don t know how many times Vinnie mentioned her tiny, delicate, well manicured hands, but after the third or so time, it became annoying And Vinnie had a habit of giving us, the readers, intimations of what were going to come Some outcomes were too predictable, even to someone like me who knows nothing of Vinnie s actual life All in all, this is a highly readable and entertaining story, but falls a little short of my expectations.I was given an advance reader s edition of this book and the quotes may change in the final edition


  3. Carol Carol says:

    I love this book I remember seeing a picture of Mrs Tom Thumb, aka Mercy Lavina Warren Bump Stratton aka Vinnie, and wondering about her marriage Was she happy This was years ago Then when I saw this book, I had to know as much as possible.From the first page I was hooked, even though the book is 412 books long, it galloped along TheI learned about Vinnie, thethat I wanted to know I could not stop reading about her adventures, thoughts and feelings How can I do justice to thi I love this book I remember seeing a picture of Mrs Tom Thumb, aka Mercy Lavina Warren Bump Stratton aka Vinnie, and wondering about her marriage Was she happy This was years ago Then when I saw this book, I had to know as much as possible.From the first page I was hooked, even though the book is 412 books long, it galloped along TheI learned about Vinnie, thethat I wanted to know I could not stop reading about her adventures, thoughts and feelings How can I do justice to this book in this review The best that I can say is Read It.Melanie Benjamin has done an excellent job of pulling together Vinnie s letters, and information about her from the day that Vinnie was born to forty years before her death How did a woman only 32 inches tall become known around the world Vinnie could have very easily stayed at home under her parent s protection with her younger and even shorter sister, Minnie We would have never known about this unusually spirited woman if she had Vinnie turned things around, she took her shortness and made it into a reason that queens and kings and other rulers of state wanted to meet her I don t want to tell what happened to spoil it for you but I can tell you what you will feel You will be shocked, amazed, excited, confused, enlightened, disappointed, sad, happy, and thrilled I sound like P.T Barnum, don t I That is because even though Vinnie was a star, P.T Barnum also was her confidant and had a special relationship with him P.T Barnum was such a larger than life figure that the author admits that she had to control him for fear of his taking over the book But Melanie Benjamin succeeded So come see, come read about this tiny, intelligent woman who had a mind of her own in the 19th century, see her break barriers, imagine her wedding, as spectacular and Charles and Diana, well, maybespectacular You won t always like her but you will still want to know about her You ll understand when you read the book.I recommend this book to anyone who wants to be amazed I received this book as a part of theVine program and that in no way influenced my opinion of this book


  4. Ckg Ckg says:

    Good historical fiction implants the desire within the reader to learn the facts that surround the narrative This book does not disappoint I finished this book a couple of weeks back and have been researching P.T Barnum and his Museum of Curiosities since I shelved the book I was completely unaware of Ms Benjamin and if you follow my reviews, which I was recently reminded, some do , few and far between though they may be you know about my reading difficulties I m not going to lie Weigh Good historical fiction implants the desire within the reader to learn the facts that surround the narrative This book does not disappoint I finished this book a couple of weeks back and have been researching P.T Barnum and his Museum of Curiosities since I shelved the book I was completely unaware of Ms Benjamin and if you follow my reviews, which I was recently reminded, some do , few and far between though they may be you know about my reading difficulties I m not going to lie Weighing in at 448 pages it was one of those books I had to decide if the risk of lost time was worth the gain from reading It was.This book is a journey back in time as much as it is the fictional narrative of the Michael Jackson Jackie Kennedy of her time Famous because of life choices deliberately planned and deliberately executed Lavinia Warren Bump Stratton embraced the reality of her physical limitations and controlled them rather than letting her handicaps control her.I plan on checking out Alice I Have Been her other work of historical fiction


  5. Debbie Zapata Debbie Zapata says:

    Size matters in this world, just as it mattered in the world of Lavinia Warren Bump, better known as Mrs General Tom Thumb She was a normal sized baby when she was born, but after a few years she simply quit growing, due most likely to a pituitary condition that would have been easily treated in modern days She was less than three feet tall, and a younger sister was even smaller.Before I go any further, let me suggest that you do NOT read anything about Lavinia before reading this book I loo Size matters in this world, just as it mattered in the world of Lavinia Warren Bump, better known as Mrs General Tom Thumb She was a normal sized baby when she was born, but after a few years she simply quit growing, due most likely to a pituitary condition that would have been easily treated in modern days She was less than three feet tall, and a younger sister was even smaller.Before I go any further, let me suggest that you do NOT read anything about Lavinia before reading this book I looked her up on Wikipedia and learned a couple of details that spoiled one of the main threads of her story I really wish I had not done that because the suspense was then lost for me So if you choose to read this book, just jump in, and save any further research about Lavinia for afterwards.I wanted very much to like Lavinia She refused to let her size dictate who she was She was big inside and she worked hard to prove it to the world, always demanding and receiving respect for who she was, not merely for what she was But was she truly as comfortable within her tiny frame as she seemed to be Did she truly accept herself Or was her hectic life and constant wish to be remembered simply a way to run from who she was, to try to be someone she thought she should have been It is hard to imagine anyone being on display the way Lavinia and her husband were during their years performing with P.T Barnum But the author did a good job of making that long ago world come to full sized life, right to the tragic end of the era


  6. Brian Brian says:

    If you flat out ask me, Do you like historical fiction I most likely will say no However, after reading this book and thinking about it, I d like to amend my answer to that question by saying that it depends on the topic That being said, I ve also come to a realization that I like books about circuses and carnie folks I haven t read one here on Goodreads, but if you look at my Shelfari, I have read several I ve read quite a few that have PT Barnum as a character This book is about Lavin If you flat out ask me, Do you like historical fiction I most likely will say no However, after reading this book and thinking about it, I d like to amend my answer to that question by saying that it depends on the topic That being said, I ve also come to a realization that I like books about circuses and carnie folks I haven t read one here on Goodreads, but if you look at my Shelfari, I have read several I ve read quite a few that have PT Barnum as a character This book is about Lavinia or Vinnie, who is a dwarf woman who has a life on the road SHe appears in shows singing and people marvel at her tiny size She also has a sister Minnie who is even smaller, who is a sweet innocent girl who Vinnie just wants to protect Vinnie s life is changed when she meets the famous circus ringmaster, PT Barnum What I really liked about this book was the fact that Vinnie was a deep, interesting character who I really started to care for Peppered throughout this book are historical facts and events, since this book takes place during the civil war I also was pleased and surprised to learn that Vinnie was a real person, and this author just fleshed out what her life was like I would recommend this book to fans of historical fiction, or almost anyone I have a feeling this book could be big


  7. Saleh MoonWalker Saleh MoonWalker says:

    Onvan The Autobiography of Mrs Tom Thumb Nevisande Melanie Benjamin ISBN 385344155 ISBN13 9780385344159 Dar 424 Safhe Saal e Chap 2011


  8. Beverly Beverly says:

    I received an Advanced Reader s Copy of this from Goodreads in exchange for an honest review.The Autobiography of Mrs Tom Thumb by Melanie BenjaminFrom the back of the book A two foot, eight inch tall dynamo, Mercy Lavinia Warren Bump lived a remarkable life that reaches out to usthan 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 I received an Advanced Reader s Copy of this from Goodreads in exchange for an honest review.The Autobiography of Mrs Tom Thumb by Melanie BenjaminFrom the back of the book A two foot, eight inch tall dynamo, Mercy Lavinia Warren Bump lived a remarkable life that reaches out to usthan 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 Historical fiction is one of my favorite genres, so I fully expected to enjoy this book Unfortunately, I was mistaken It s very well written, but I just never really connected with this book What I liked about the book It is full of details The characters and plot are well developed Benjamin really connected with her characters and that comes through in the writing Benjamin also paints a colorful picture of the time period.What I didn t like about the book For me it was too long and this might be due to the fact that I didn t like Vinnie She is not an endearing character Benjamin has portrayed her as cold and unfeeling It s obvious she loved her younger sister, but she does not consider Minnie her equal Even her concern for her sister s well being is tinged with what is good for her and not necessarily Minnie She is cold and unfeeling toward her husband, treating him as though he were merely a co worker than her husband There is a hint that Vinnie does feel true love for someone other than herself, which makes Vinnie a littleendearing However, this is not fully explored and the reader is left wondering.To be fair, many other reviewers on Goodreads, have given this book high marks As I said the book is very well written, it s just not my cup of tea If you like historical fiction and don t mind a rather long story about an unsympathetic character, then this might be the book for you.Scheduled to be on sale July 26, 2011


  9. Carol Carol says:

    Knowing just a tad about the wife of Tom Thumb was incentive to want to read The Autobiography of Mrs Tom Thumb by Melanie Benjamin Fiction I knew from the outset that I would be grappling with what was fact and what was the creativity of the author I listened to several interviews with Ms Benjamin and also read internet resources about Mercy Lavinia Warren Bump Stratton to try to distinguish between the two I believe Ms Benjamin did a great job of striking a balance between what is known Knowing just a tad about the wife of Tom Thumb was incentive to want to read The Autobiography of Mrs Tom Thumb by Melanie Benjamin Fiction I knew from the outset that I would be grappling with what was fact and what was the creativity of the author I listened to several interviews with Ms Benjamin and also read internet resources about Mercy Lavinia Warren Bump Stratton to try to distinguish between the two I believe Ms Benjamin did a great job of striking a balance between what is known and what is assumed and gives the reader a fairly accurate picture of her life.I was immediately drawn into the story as we learn how Vinnie, as she is known, is born a normal size baby but then stops growing early in her life Vinnie is only approximately 32 but seems to be a tall presence Imagine that Vinnie could have been hidden for what would seem her own good, never gone to school, never seen or done the things she did Not for Vinnie As a young woman she bucked her mother, while receiving the support of her father to attend school Here she got a bit of a taste of what her life would be if she did not take herself seriously and demand respect When it was time to make her own way in the world she first taught school, no easy task but using the mindset she gave herself, she earned the admiration and respect of her pupils Yet, Vinnie yearned forWhen an offer came to join a traveling oddities show on a Mississippi Showboat, she jumped right in and never looked back.There is so much to ponder here making The Autobiography of Mrs Tom Thumb a great choice for book discussion Questions arise quickly What life would Vinnie have had if she remained a teacher What was her true relationship with P.T Barnum, with her husband Tom Thumb Was her marriage to Charles consummated How did she see other performers Was she a good businesswoman Should freak shows be allowed Was Vinnie smarter than Charles Did she crave the limelight at the cost of others How about her relationship with her sister Minnie also a proportionate dwarf What Melanie Benjamin tries to do is get into Vinnie s head, to explore her feelings This may or may not be accurate but as fiction goes, I believe the author did a good job, giving us a picture of what it must have been like to be Vinnie Stratton 4.5 stars


  10. Staciel Staciel says:

    I don t think that one character has made me feel such a range of emotions as Vinnie, the main character in this book has In the beginning of the book, I was thinking, YOU GO, GIRL Way to not let the size of your body stop you from fulfilling your dreams But then for 2 3 of the book, I didn t like her at all thinking that she was arrogant, heartless and snobbyshe says on page 256, That was it, pure and simple my life was onstage, next to my husband, either reenacting a pretend weddin I don t think that one character has made me feel such a range of emotions as Vinnie, the main character in this book has In the beginning of the book, I was thinking, YOU GO, GIRL Way to not let the size of your body stop you from fulfilling your dreams But then for 2 3 of the book, I didn t like her at all thinking that she was arrogant, heartless and snobbyshe says on page 256, That was it, pure and simple my life was onstage, next to my husband, either reenacting a pretend wedding ceremony or holding a pretend infant I had no room for big love, big decisions, big messes, big happiness not in this miniature life, spent under the magnifying glare of so many eyes, that I had made for myself she goes on to state on pg 264, I simply felt driven to see, to experience to give of myself to those whose approval should have meant less than my own husband s but instead meant so much . I simply realized I needed the warmth of an audience like a plant needs sun All in all, I had a very hard time relating to her as a character, and found her actions so self serving that I had a really hard time liking her