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The Autobiography of Mrs. Tom Thumb

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Most Helpful Favorable Review

6 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

A big story in a small package

Author Melanie Benjamin immersed herself in autobiographies of Lavinia Warren Bump Scratton and P.T. Barnum, and created a fictional biography based on lots of truth and fact.

Lavinia was born normal-sized, but quit growing (or drastically slowed her growth) around o...
Author Melanie Benjamin immersed herself in autobiographies of Lavinia Warren Bump Scratton and P.T. Barnum, and created a fictional biography based on lots of truth and fact.

Lavinia was born normal-sized, but quit growing (or drastically slowed her growth) around one-year of age, and at her full height she stood only 32 inches high. She may have been small in stature, but she was not small in personality. Never content to remain at home and lead a quiet, simple life, Lavinia always dreamed of seeing the world. And thanks to showman P.T. Barnum, that's exactly what she does over her roller-coaster career of ups and downs.

During her years with Barnum, a friendship builds, and sometimes it is for him that does things of which she may not agree with or be proud. Eventually she marries General Tom Thumb (aka Charles Stratton), taking on what becomes her most famous role as "Mrs. Tom Thumb".

Her husband Charles Stratton was for me perhaps the most real and believable character in the book, although at times quite unlikable given his "weak" personality. Raised by Barnum from childhood, he was molded into a character that he himself began to believe, never quite recognizing he didn't fit into society and was always something of a farce.

P.T. Barnum is always a showman, and always looking for a way to turn something into a headline, even if it means exploiting friends. However there is a genuine friendship between him and both Lavinia and Charles.

Lavinia's little sister (and when I say "little", I mean both in age and height. Minnie was only 27 inches tall) seems weak and simple and perpetually frightened through most of the book. It isn't until later that you begin to question whether perhaps she was actually the strongest of them all.

Well-written and engaging, this book was able to hold me to the end. However there was something about it that bugged me. I've tried to figure it out, and the only word that continually comes to mind is "pretentious" in regards to Lavinia. But despite this being a little off-putting for me, I still enjoyed this story and would recommend it to anyone who enjoys historical fiction and a "novel" novel!

posted by nfmgirl on September 7, 2011

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Most Helpful Critical Review

3 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

The Autobiography of Mrs. Tom Thumb By Melanie Benjamin At two

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 ta...
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 book; the author takes an interesting story and turns it into something dull and annoying. I say annoying due to the fact that Melanie Benjamin turned Lavinia Bump into an egotistical arrogant woman who thought every other little person, including her husband and sister, to be less intelligent than she was. Then there is the main dilemma of the novel which, with a quite glance at wikipedia you will find out what it is, turns out to be absolutely ludicrous. To add to these issues is the fact that Lavinia never loved Tom Thumb but actually P.T. Barnum and never even consummated her wedding, I find this entirely too hard to believe. Melanie Benjamin may be a good writer but this story turned out to be rubbish, and what was with the rant about the polygamist Mormons? Skip it and try google.

posted by BookwormReflects on July 6, 2012

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