The Autobiography of Mrs. Tom Thumb
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The Autobiography of Mrs. Tom Thumb

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3.64 of 5 stars 3.64  ·  rating details  ·  5,424 ratings  ·  1,132 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
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Historical Fiction 2011
34th out of 110 books — 636 voters
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Susan
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...more
Carol
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...more
Beverly
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...more
Staciel

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...more
Ckg
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
Tabitha (Pabkins)
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...more
Brian
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
Orsolya
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...more
Charlene Intriago
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
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'...more
John
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
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.

Branded...more
Annika
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...more
Lauren
Mar 03, 2013 Lauren rated it 2 of 5 stars
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...more
Carol
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
Leslie
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
Kathryn
Apr 29, 2012 Kathryn rated it 4 of 5 stars
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
Barb
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...more
Candace
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...more
Book Concierge
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
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
Kate
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...more
Teresa Medeiros
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...more
K
Sep 20, 2011 K rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  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...more
Tia
I truly wanted to like this story more than I did. Most of it was very repetative. I felt as if I was reading the same lines over and over again. I did find Vinnie's imagained life to be an interesting read. My favorite parts were the relationship between her and Minnie and her and Barnum. I felt the book could have been much shorter and still gotten its point across. It also could have been more exciting. Parts of the story were boring and really unneeded to advance the story. I hated the inter...more
Sharyl
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...more
Heather Boustead
The Autobiography of Mrs. Tom Thumb
By Melanie Benjamin

At two foot eight inches Mercy Lavinia Bump is the perfect miniature woman. She started out as a school teacher then when she was seventeen she was approached to travel on a boat as a performer, with this first taste of fame she would continue on to become an icon during a time of great unrest. This is a fictional autobiography of the woman who became Mrs. Tom Thumb half of the perfect miniature couple.

I almost didn’t make it through this boo...more
Jane
I picked up this book because it was on the "new arrivals" shelf at the library. I don't read a lot of historical fiction, but scanned the inside jacket, decided to give it a read and am glad I did. Mercy Lavinia Warren Bump, 32 inches high, is from a farming family concerned with what life possibilities were available to her. Perhaps against their own better judgment they allow her to go to school where she excels, becomes the school teacher. But she wants more - and boy, does she get it.

This b...more
Laurie
This isn’t really an autobiography, but fictionalized history told from the POV of Mercy Lavinia Warren Bump- Vinnie- who later married and became Mrs. Charles Stratton, AKA Tom Thumb. These were real people; famous in show business, touring the world and performing before presidents and royalty. While they were brought into show business because of their stature- they were little people- they elevated themselves above the sideshow acts so common in those days and were stage performers who sang...more
Louise
Author Melanie Benjamin takes on the challenge of defining Mercy Lavinia Warren Bump, who is famous for her performances with her husband, "General Tom Thumb" under contract with P. T. Barnum.. It's a good intriguing read, particularly if you have familiarity with PT Barnum and the Strattons (aka the Thumbs).

Benjamin makes Lavinia the first person narrator, who starts off as a sympathetic character. While just over 2 feet tall, she is a loving and dutiful daughter. She cares for her sister who i...more
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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. She lives in the Chicago area with her husband and two sons. She's currently at work on her next historical novel.
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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