Saturday, August 27, 2011
The Autobiography of Mrs. Tom Thumb by Melanie Benjamin, 424 pages
Lavinia Warren Bump might have been less than three feet tall but her personality and determination more than made up for any shortcomings in height. In a time in American history when women were limited only to marriage, nursing or teaching, Lavinia traveled much of America as a perfect miniature lady, first with Wood's traveling steamboat, and then with P. T. Barnum. Just a few short months after meeting Barnum, Lavinia married General Tom Thumb (also known as Charles Stratton), and the two became a superstar couple, with details about their wedding pushing the Civil War off the front pages of the newspapers. Following Lavinia's life up to just after her husband's death, this book covers one of America's most interesting women.
"The Autobiography of Mrs. Tom Thumb" by Melanie Benjamin is an outstanding fictionalized biography of a woman whose story has been largely ignored. She traveled much of the world, meet many reigning heads of countries, and shook more hands than probably anybody else in her time. One of my guilty pleasures has always been reading about "freaks" and human oddities such as Eng and Chang, the famous Siamese twins, and other personalities who performed for Barnum. This was well written, entertaining, and a treat for anyone who enjoys historical fiction.