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The Autobiography of Mrs. Tom Thumb

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3.69  ·  Rating details ·  9,646 ratings  ·  1,623 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 bec ...more
Hardcover, 424 pages
Published July 26th 2011 by Delacorte Press
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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 Melanie Benjamin created this "account" based on historical documents, including ones written by Mrs.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 Melanie Benjamin created this "account" based on historical documents, including ones written by Mrs.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)
Leslie Effman Yes this is historical fiction. Historical fiction is my favorite literary genre. It's based on real events, involves lots of research by the author t…moreYes this is historical fiction. Historical fiction is my favorite literary genre. It's based on real events, involves lots of research by the author to get the setting, the historical period and events accurate but the author then weaves a story based around the events, people and locations. This gives us, the readers, the opportunity to experience that time and place, and get the essence of the characters.(less)

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Heidi The Reader
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
...more
Susan (aka Just My Op)
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
Annette
At 32” no one expects anything from her and everyone wants to protect her. As much as she appreciates the protection and love of her family, she still wants something more from life. Coming from a small town, she craves the big world. With her intelligence and ambitious spirit, she goes on to become a legend, dining with Presidents, Vanderbildts, and Astors among others.

Massachusetts, late 19th century. Mercy Lavinia “Vinnie” Warren Bump is raised on a family farm. Through her hard work and dili
...more
Carol
May 26, 2011 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
...more
Ckg
Oct 06, 2011 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
Debbie Zapata
Nov 21, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: saturdaymx
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
...more
Saleh MoonWalker
Aug 13, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: historical, fiction
Onvan : The Autobiography of Mrs. Tom Thumb - Nevisande : Melanie Benjamin - ISBN : 385344155 - ISBN13 : 9780385344159 - Dar 424 Safhe - Saal e Chap : 2011
Brian
May 06, 2011 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
Beverly
Jul 06, 2011 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
...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
Staciel
Jun 28, 2012 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
...more
Carol
Mar 08, 2013 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'
...more
Erin
Jun 05, 2017 rated it liked it
Find this and other reviews at: https://historicalfictionreader.blogs...

Several months ago, I stumbled over a documentary entitled The Seven Dwarfs of Auschwitz. The broadcast centers on the Ovitz family and after watching it, I went looking for a fictional account of their lives and experiences. Unfortunately for me, their story has not yet inspired an author to put pen to paper, but by the time I discovered that fact, I was dead set on finding a book that featured an individual with dwarfism i
...more
Orsolya
Jul 12, 2011 rated it it was amazing
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
Jul 22, 2014 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
Kate
Oct 14, 2011 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
...more
Leslie
Feb 13, 2012 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
John
Jul 28, 2011 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
Annika
Aug 07, 2011 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
...more
Kathryn
Jan 18, 2012 rated it really liked it
Recommended to Kathryn by: Random House Reader's Circle
Shelves: 2012
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
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
Diana
Apr 25, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I recently watched The Greatest Showman and really enjoyed it so wanted to know more about PT Barnum and his cast of characters. I had this book in my TBR stack and it offered further insights into the period and people associated with PT Barnum. Although this was fiction a lot of authentic research went into the writing of this book. Mercy Lavinia 'Vinnie' Bump Stratton approached PT Barnum after a short and tumultuous stint on a show boat on the Mississippi. A short statured lady of strong wil ...more
Rachel McMillan
Jun 15, 2017 rated it really liked it
This was a really interesting piece of historical fiction with an arresting first person narrative that made it seamlessly seem like a biography. It points at the limitations of women in the 19th Century ---- and paints a ghastly picture of how narrow they were for people who who, like Vinnie Stratton, were seen as "other" or "different."


PT Barnum is painted as a smart man with a lot of agency; but also with a heart. The dialogue between Vinnie and Barnum is when the pages really strike alive.

A
...more
K
Sep 11, 2011 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
...more
Diane S ☔
Jun 02, 2011 rated it really liked it
What an amazing story about an amazing woman (little or not) her family tragedies, her hopes and dreams. Her relationship with her sister, her husband and her love for Barnum. What an amazing life she led.
Sheri
Sep 18, 2018 rated it liked it
Lavinia Warren was certainly a bold woman (especially for her time), leaving home and creating a name for herself. Benjamin creates an entertaining account, but her only real insight seems to be that Vinnie kept herself aloof to all except Barnum. I was not really compelled at any point and upon reaching the end I discovered that I did not take any notes. Overall it was really just meh as a book.
Laurie
Aug 10, 2011 rated it really liked it
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
Sharyl
Jun 15, 2011 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
...more
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2015 Reading Chal...: The Autobiography of Mrs. Tom Thumb by Melanie Benjamin 1 10 Nov 01, 2015 08:28AM  
Mrs. Tom Thumb well done. 6 20 Apr 08, 2014 06:20AM  
Mrs Tom Thumb 10 118 Aug 15, 2012 05:04PM  

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Melanie Benjamin is the author of the New York Times bestselling novels THE SWANS OF FIFTH AVENUE and THE AVIATOR'S WIFE, as well as the national bestseller ALICE I HAVE BEEN, and THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF MRS. TOM THUMB and MISTRESS OF THE RITZ. Her most recent novel is the new historical fiction, THE CHILDREN'S BLIZZARD, about the real-life devastating blizzard that swept the Great Plains in 1888, up ...more

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