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The Autobiography of Mrs. Tom Thumb: A Novel | [Melanie Benjamin]

The Autobiography of Mrs. Tom Thumb: A Novel

In her national best seller 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 became her greatest strength.
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Publisher's Summary

In her national best seller 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 19th century icon and inspiration—and whose most daunting limitation became her greatest strength.

“Never would I allow my size to define me. Instead, I would define it.”

She was only two-foot eight-inches tall, but her legend reaches out to us more than a century later. As a child, Mercy Lavinia “Vinnie” Bump was encouraged to live a life hidden away from the public. Instead, she reached out to the immortal impresario P. T. Barnum, married the tiny superstar General Tom Thumb in the wedding of the century, and transformed into the world’s most unexpected celebrity.

Here, in Vinnie’s singular and spirited voice, is her amazing adventure—from a showboat “freak” revue where she endured jeering mobs to her fateful meeting with the two men who would change her life: P. T. Barnum and Charles Stratton, AKA Tom Thumb. Their wedding would captivate the nation, preempt coverage of the Civil War, and usher them into the White House and the company of presidents and queens. But Vinnie’s fame would also endanger the person she prized most: her similarly-sized sister, Minnie, a gentle soul unable to escape the glare of Vinnie’s spotlight.

A barnstorming novel of the Gilded Age, and of a woman’s public triumphs and personal tragedies, The Autobiography of Mrs. Tom Thumb is the irresistible epic of a heroine who conquered the country with a heart as big as her dreams—and whose story will surely win over yours.

©2011 Melanie Benjamin (P)2011 Random House

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

3.8 (95 )
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4.1 (78 )
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  •  
    Rupe Berkeley, CA, United States 08-17-11
    Rupe Berkeley, CA, United States 08-17-11 Member Since 2003
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Amazing"

    Like a curtain call we get to enjoy the superstar showpeople from 150 years ago. How the author came upon this character and brought her back to life is amazing.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Janet LAKE FOREST, CA, United States 09-06-11
    Janet LAKE FOREST, CA, United States 09-06-11 Member Since 2005
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "A Tad Dull"

    I think I was expecting this book to be a little bit weirder and maybe funnier, instead it is a very earnest, prim account of Mrs. Tom Thumb - at times an interesting snapshot of the era, but it left me wanting more.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    HIII Grants Pass, OR, United States 05-31-12
    HIII Grants Pass, OR, United States 05-31-12 Member Since 2010
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    "Small people big impact!"

    I must admit I have never considered the challenges faced by little people. Door knobs to high, clothing that does not fit, chairs they cannot get into, steps to high and this book was an eye opener to their plight. Melanie Benjamin does a good job making her listeners more aware of situations faced by others (I also listened to Alice I Have Been.) I have to thank her for making me a more considerate person. Kim Mai Guest presents Vinnie (Mrs. Thumb) with a sweetly irritating voice which eventually I suspected was done to remind the listener this story is about a person not 3 feet tall. I am not sure I would recommend this book but I am glad I listened.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Robin MADISON, WI, United States 04-18-12
    Robin MADISON, WI, United States 04-18-12 Member Since 2011
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    "Truth wasn't stranger than fiction"
    What made the experience of listening to The Autobiography of Mrs. Tom Thumb the most enjoyable?

    The narrator did a great job of portraying the character's feelings and viewpoint.


    How would you have changed the story to make it more enjoyable?

    I think it should have been fictionalized more. There were whole sections of the character's life that weren't all that interesting, but since the author was basing it on a real person, we were stuck with that. Maybe the book should have just been shorter and not tried to cover her whole life.


    What does Kim Mai Guest bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

    She did a very good job portraying emotions and views of the various characters


    Who was the most memorable character of The Autobiography of Mrs. Tom Thumb and why?

    Mrs Tom Thumb is the one you get to know the most, as everything is seen through her eyes. She did have an amazing life.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Emily Los Angeles, CA, United States 09-24-11
    Emily Los Angeles, CA, United States 09-24-11 Member Since 2008
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Enjoyable!"

    The story moved along well. I was always interested in starting my car, and hearing what was next. Her other book about Alice (In Wonderland) is as good or even better.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    anna Chico, CA, United States 09-07-11
    anna Chico, CA, United States 09-07-11 Member Since 2003
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "tedious and overwrought"

    The book was very disappointing. The characters are painfully simplistic and predictable. The premise is great...the execution horrible.

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
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