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The Autobiography of Mrs. Tom Thumb

3.65  ·  Rating Details  ·  6,987 Ratings  ·  1,327 Reviews
In 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 becam ...more
Hardcover, 424 pages
Published July 26th 2011 by Delacorte Press (first published January 1st 2011)
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Sarah Yes, this book is historical fiction. Melanie Benjamin created this "account" based on historical documents, including ones written by Mrs. Tom Thumb…moreYes, this book is historical fiction. Melanie Benjamin created this "account" based on historical documents, including ones written by Mrs. Tom Thumb (Vinnie). Many of the events, details, and characters described are based in fact, and I believe all of the Intermission articles are real, too. But a lot of Vinnie's thoughts, feelings, and behaviors in the book are interpretations and imaginings by the author.(less)
Bev Davis
This answer contains spoilers… (view spoiler)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Jul 10, 2011 Susan rated it really liked it
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 read more like 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
Jun 10, 2011 Carol rated it it was amazing
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. The more I learned about Vinnie, the more that I wanted to know. I could not stop reading about her adventures, thoughts and feelings. How can I do justice to thi
Debbie Zapata
Mar 14, 2015 Debbie Zapata rated it liked it
Shelves: saturday
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
Oct 07, 2011 Ckg rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
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 ...more
Jul 18, 2011 Beverly rated it it was ok
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 Benjamin

From the back of the book:

"A two-foot, eight-inch tall dynamo, Mercy Lavinia Warren Bump lived a remarkable life that reaches out to 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
Jun 28, 2012 Staciel rated it liked it

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 snobby...she says on page 256, " That was it, pure and simple; my life was onstage, next to my husband, either reenacting a pretend weddin
Charlene Intriago
Jul 29, 2014 Charlene Intriago rated it really liked it
Shelves: books-read-2014
Even though I had heard her stage name and seen her picture, I had no idea who Mercy Lavinia Warren Bump was. Author Melanie Benjamin uses historical records to give us a rather well written "fictionalized" autobiography of Vinnie (as she is known to family and friends). Her story can't be told without being intertwined with the very famous Phineas T. Barnum and an American public wanting to be entertained. Even though she was diminutive in stature (only 32 inches tall), Lavinia Bump wanted some ...more
Enchanting, engaging, moving, and beautiful. These are just a few words which can amply describe The Autobiography of Mrs. Tom Thumb… and that was only by page 27!

The Autobiography of Mrs. Tom Thumb instantly grabs 110% of your attention with vivid imagery, bright descriptions, emotional currents, and a strong plot without the usual fictional fluff. A coming of age story, depicting self-acceptance and growth; The Autobiography of Mrs. Tom Thumb is a traditional theme and yet far from it and muc
May 08, 2011 Brian rated it it was amazing
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 ...more
Tabitha (Pabkins)
Mar 18, 2012 Tabitha (Pabkins) rated it liked it
I received this book from a GoodReads First Reads giveaway.

*on an aggravated note - I just wrote this whole thing and then the internet ate it last night - so this version is going to be shorter* Copy and paste before you click people!!

This book was definitely not what I expected. I was expecting more of a fiction feel to it but I didn't get much of that. The writing was vivid and clear so much so that I really did feel like I was in a different time. I think that is important as many other his
Aug 12, 2011 Annika rated it liked it
This book was interesting only because of the protagonist. Had this same book been written in the same style and about a "normal" woman, it would've been terribly boring and slow.

Mrs. Tom Thumb's ("Vinnie" Warren Bump's) early life, life under PT Barnum's management, her marriage, and the very end of the book are the most interesting. There are too many slow, dragging places in this book. The story is told entirely through Vinnie's viewpoint, which would be okay, except the majority of it is in
Mar 19, 2013 Carol rated it really liked it
Shelves: book-group-reads
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 ...more
Emma Deplores Goodreads Censorship
This is an entertaining novel about a colorful historical figure; however, it doesn't rise much above average and it has a couple of unfortunate flaws.

Lavinia "Vinnie" Warren was a pre-Civil War celebrity: less than three feet tall as an adult, but dignified and ladylike, she made a career as an entertainer and married another little person, General Tom Thumb. The real Lavinia's autobiography was an unfinished and apparently quite dull travelogue, mostly listing places she'd been and people she'
Jul 28, 2011 John rated it it was amazing
For fans of "Alice I Have Been", author Melanie Benjamin's first novel, you are in for a real treat with her new novel, "The Autobiography of Mrs. Tom Thumb". In my humble opinion Ms. Benjamin has shown a gift for choosing historical figures who have passed from the limelight and bringing their fascinating stories back to life in the enlightening and accessible form of the historical novel. I had never heard of Mercy Lavinia "Vinnie" Warren Bump, the future wife of Charles Stratton (General Tom ...more
Feb 13, 2012 Leslie rated it it was ok
While I understand that this book is a historical NOVEL, I think Ms. Benjamin would have been better served to write a novel about a fictional character. It is obvious that there was very little actual historical information about Vinnie Bump. Therefore, Ms Benjamin basically had to repeat herself over and over and over. After the first hundred pages, I wanted to throw the book or burn it for kindling. There are only so many ways to convey that Vinnie was a self-absorbed person with no idea that ...more
I’m in awe . . . . . . Magnificent, transcending, captivating awe!!! The autobiography of Mrs. Tom Thumb is serendipitously superb in the best and worst heartfelt ways. It’s akin to a hauntingly beautiful wanderlust-fairytale; though real as real can be.

Based on extensive research into the eccentric life of Lavinia Warren Stratton (one of few “perfectly formed people in miniature” of the 1880’s) Melanie Benjamin has masterfully created a fictionalized biography as entertaining and fascinating a
Tara Chevrestt
This is a novelization about Mrs. Tom Thumb who stood 2 feet, 8 inches tall. The novel is told in the first person, Vinnie's (Mrs. TT) and just as the title says, like an autobiography.

I was completely charmed by this little two foot narrator even though she isn't perfect. She is strong, determined, prideful and ashamed both, arrogant, selfish, and yet also extremely loving. Throughout the novel, she does wrong and she does right, just like everyone else and her narrative is very honest.

Sep 20, 2011 K rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to K by: MAP
Although I don't usually enjoy speculative fictionalized biographies, this book was an exception. Melanie Benjamin takes the little we know about Mrs. Tom Thumb, Lavinia Stratton, gleaned from her actual autobiography and other ambiguous sources, and creates an interesting and believable character. Benjamin also gives us an interesting and well-written story and evokes a fascinating time period.

I enjoyed this more than Alice I Have Been, and it's always nice to see a writer exceeding previous wo
Apr 29, 2012 Kathryn rated it really liked it
Recommended to Kathryn by: Random House Reader's Circle
This was a very good book. It is written as fiction based on the truth. I wasn't even certain Tom Thomb was a real person let alone Mercy Lavinia "Vinnie" Warren Bump, later known as Mrs. Tom Thumb. It was also fascinating to learn about PT Barnum who on some level was Vinnie's true soul mate. As the author wrote in the back of the book "I believe that every novel is either a mystery, a tragedy or a love story - some are all three - and it became clear to me that this is a love story. An unusual ...more
Aug 13, 2012 Barb rated it it was amazing
I actually listened to this book via Audible last summer while creating the art for my own book, Glamorous Glasses. Because the voice of the narrator so embodied what I imagined the voice of a little person to be, and it was so well read, and with such heartfelt emotion, the experience was simply wonderful. Read conventionally, it would certainly be pleasurable. But, if time is an issue and you are in the middle of a project as I was, don't dismiss the audible version.

The novel is the story--an
Apr 08, 2011 Candace rated it it was amazing
It gave me real pleasure to be the first person to "Like" Lavinia Warren on Facebook.

Vinnie would have been posting like mad and collecting friends like a fiend because her sense of self promotion was sure and timely. Born to a middle class Massachussetts family, proportional dwarfism caused her to grow to 2'8". A younger sister did not even make it that far, and so they were indeed well-proportioned tiny people in a family of strapping farmers. Vinnie became a teacher but realized that she was
Book Concierge
Aug 16, 2012 Book Concierge rated it it was amazing
Lavinia Warren was only 32 inches high, but had ambitions that were not limited by her diminutive size. She was a real person, more popularly known as Mrs General Tom Thumb – the wife of P T Barnum’s famous “oddity.” In the midst of Civil War, their wedding was front-page news. They were received by Queen Victoria, Abraham Lincoln, and heads of state around the world. They were befriended by the Astors, Vanderbilts and other high society families. They were the Brad and Angelina of their day, mo ...more
Lolly's Library (Dork Kettle)
What an enthralling novel! Now, normally I'm not one to get enthused about modern literature, the types of books full of high-minded ideals and deep subjects, books trumpeted by both critics and Oprah alike. However, this is one novel in which I would gladly join the masses and trumpet, push and generally talk it up to those that will listen. Because this is something else altogether, a book which stands apart from the masses of book-club reads and popular fiction. This is a larger-than-life tal ...more
Jun 28, 2011 Sharyl rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2011-reads
The Autobiography of Mrs. Tom Thumb, by Melanie Benjamin, is a very engaging historical novel based on the true life story of one Mercy Lavinia Warren Bump, born on October 31, 1841 in Middleboro, Massachusetts. As the title suggests, it is written in the first person, from the perspective of the woman known at first as Lavinia Warren, and then as Mrs. Tom Thumb.

Warren was born into a loving family, but was determined to make her own way, and so embarked on the intriguing adventure that was to b
Nov 18, 2011 Kate rated it did not like it
In her painfully shallow novel The Autobiography of Mrs. Tom Thumb, Melanie Benjamin proves herself to be an author’s equivalent of an art tracer. She takes what already exists and creates (though I use the term rather loosely) by the addition of words to a page a watered-down, sterile, lifeless version of the real thing. Then she convinces her audience that it’s just as good as the original. A con artist. P.T. Barnum would be proud.

The most ironic joke of the whole piece is Benjamin’s title. Th
Mar 03, 2013 Lauren rated it it was ok
Recommended to Lauren by: My brother
A disclaimer before you read further: I've only read the first half of this book (about 200-some pages) so I'm not working with all of the content, and you could quite justifiably claim that discounts my opinion.

I understood from the get-go that this was a highly fictionalized account but I found it rather dull and predictable. The historical details here and there were interesting, but the characters were all 1-dimensional. Even Vinnie herself. We're never privy to any questions or doubts. For
Teresa Medeiros
Jan 30, 2013 Teresa Medeiros rated it it was amazing
I really liked Melanie Benjamin's fresh take on Alice Lidell (of ALICE IN WONDERLAND fame) in ALICE I HAVE BEEN and I loved THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF MRS. TOM THUMB even more. It reminded me of something you'd read as a kid that totally succeeds in bringing a historical era to life--like LITTLE HOUSE ON THE PRAIRIE or Gwen Bristow's JUBILEE TRAIL.

Mrs. Tom Thumb or Mercy Lavinia "Vinnie" Warren Bump is an unforgettable character and you become fascinated by seeing the world from her unique viewpoint
Mauoijenn ~ *Mouthy Jenn* ~
An interesting look into a VERY interesting woman. I enjoyed this and thanks to my fellow librarian for the rec.
Bryn Greenwood
Ultimately, although there was a great deal of interesting historical perspective, I was troubled by a taint of ableist attitude toward Gen. Tom Thumb. Thought the book is told through the eyes of his equally small wife Lavinia Warren, that view feels awfully judgmental toward his size. The fictional Lavinia frequently demeans and belittles her husband in a way that's off putting to me, while praising fictional Barnum as a great man. I don't ask for likable characters or happy endings but it all ...more
Enchanting, moving, and fascinating. These are just a few words which can amply describe The Autobiography of Mrs. Tom Thumb; and that was only by the first few chapters. This novel instantly grabs all of your attention with vivid imagery, thorough descriptions, all the current events, and a strong plot without the usual fictional cheese. A 'coming of age' story, depicting self-acceptance and growth; The story reads with depth and very interesting character development. The best part of all - NO ...more
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Mrs Tom Thumb 10 112 Aug 15, 2012 05:04PM  
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Melanie Benjamin is the author of the New York Times bestselling novel, THE AVIATOR'S WIFE, as well as the national bestseller ALICE I HAVE BEEN, and THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF MRS. TOM THUMB. THE SWANS OF FIFTH AVENUE, a novel about Truman Capote and his high society "Swans," will be out in January 2016. She lives in the Chicago area with her husband and two sons. She's currently at work on her next hi ...more
More about Melanie Benjamin...

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“Never would I allow my size to define me. Instead I would define it.” 8 likes
“That's just it, don't you see? I don't want to be taken care of! I don't want be hidden away, a burden! I want to make my own way! To have a greater purpose!' ” 4 likes
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