The Autobiography of Mrs. Tom Thumb
By Melanie Benjamin
(Bantam, Paperback, 9780385344166, 480pp.)
Publication Date: April 3, 2012
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For anyone who loves the historical novels of Sara Gruen, Geraldine Brooks, and E. L. Doctorow, a barnstorming tale of an irrepressible, brawling, bawdy era and the remarkable woman who had the courage to match the unique spirit of America’s Gilded Age.
She was only two feet, eight inches tall, but more than a century later, her legend reaches out to us. As a child, Mercy Lavinia “Vinnie” Warren 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 became the world’s most unexpected celebrity. Vinnie’s wedding captivated the nation, preempted coverage of the Civil War, and even ushered her into the White House. But her fame also endangered 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, 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.
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Melanie Benjamin is a pseudonym for Melanie Hauser, the author of two contemporary novels. Her first work of historical fiction as Melanie Benjamin was Alice I Have Been. She lives in Chicago, where she is at work on her next historical novel.
“By turns heartrending and thrilling, this bighearted novel recounts the life of an extraordinary woman in lush, meticulously researched prose. I loved it!”—Sara Gruen
“[Melanie Benjamin] knows how to combine research and readability. And she’s given Vinnie such dignity and courage . . . that her heroine commands attention from the first page.”—The Washington Post
“Remarkable, soaring . . . a spellbinding tale . . . a fascinating story of triumph and tragedy and one person who refused to live a small life.”—BookPage
“Melanie Benjamin enfolds the reader in the intimate world of Lavinia Warren Stratton, better known as Mrs. Tom Thumb, [whose] voice is unflinching. . . . That the characters have faults and regrets, as well as hope, adds to the veracity of the novel.”—The Denver Post
“A narrative voice that is feisty, intelligent, brave, adventurous, and resourceful.”—The Boston Globe
“Grabs you from the opening pages, providing hints of the absorbing and entertaining story to come . . . a delightful cavalcade of late nineteenth-century Americana.”—Library Journal
More than 150 writers from 40 events will gather in New York City for PEN World Voices Festival of International Literature, April 28 – May 4, 2014.
For its 10th anniversary, the festival celebrates those who have dared to stand ‘on the edge,’ risking their careers, and sometimes their lives, to speak out for their art and beliefs. Join us for a wide range of events, including debates, one-on-one conversations, participatory workshops and performances in venues throughout the city. Use the code PEN14 (use PEN2014 for events at The Public Theater) and receive a 20 percent discount on most events. www.worldvoicesfestival.org