Candace's Reviews > The Autobiography of Mrs. Tom Thumb

The Autobiography of Mrs. Tom Thumb by Melanie Benjamin
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's review
Apr 08, 2011

it was amazing
Read in April, 2011

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 destined to spend her life as a small town oddity unless she did something about it. An alleged cousin came to the farm and offered Vinnie the chance to join his showboat traveling the Mississippi, and to her parents' amazement, she said yes.

Ladylike, intelligent, accomplished but sharp tongued, she was nothing like anyone out west had ever encountered. But was she to be stuck on a reeking barge with her new friends the 8-foot-woman and the tattooed man forever? No indeed.

Melanie Benjamin's first novel "Alice I Have Been" was one of my favorite novels of, what was it, 2009? "Mrs. Tom Thumb" is not as moving but it is a fascinating story that could have gone on longer. Benjamin glosses over events in Vinnie's later career that I would have loved to know more about--for example, Vinnie claims that she, her husband, and the General Tom Thumb company were the first Americans to travel to Australia. What about her second husband and her continuing link to Barnum? More! More!

Benjamin creates a world that is convincing and alive. I could go for volume II, but since I don't think that's happening, I'll look forward to Melanie Benjamin's next.
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