She was only two feet, 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 ...
She was only two feet, 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 became a worldwide celebrity. 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.
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I know an autobiography is all about the main character, but Mrs. Tom Thumb was so overly involved with herself it became impossible to empathize with her at the worst of times. As attached as she was to her sister, one felt she saw everyone in terms of herself and how their lives affected her. Poor Tom -- how she used him! I had no idea a Mrs. Tom Thumb existed until I read the book, and walked away wanting to know more: more about Tom, PT Barnum, and everyone else mentioned. It's a good sign when I find the main character less than likable and yet enjoy the book.
Author Benjamin did a great job describing the place, habits, food and clothing of the time and brought the characters to life. One can see, hear, feel, taste, and smell everything that is going on. Well worth reading.
Publishers Weekly, 2011-03-21 Mercy Lavinia "Vinnie" Warren Bump, the diminutive wife of Gen. Tom Thumb, narrates her life story in this vivacious fictionalized autobiography that takes her from a small New England town to a seedy Mississippi showboat and eventually into the entourage of the impresario P.T. Barnum. Born with proportionate dwarfism, Vinnie, a "perfect woman in miniature," rejects a career as a schoolteacher in favor of show business, eventually finding an intellectual soul mate in Barnum and international fame that leads her into the opulence of New York society and meetings with heads of state from the White House to Europe and India. Benjamin (Alice I Have Been) centers the latter half of her tale around Vinnie and Barnum's odd-couple friendship and touchy business relationship, sometimes glossing frustratingly over Vinnie's own adventures-a three-year tour of Australia and Asia is given only a few pages-and leaving the last 40 years of her life untold. But the smart and unyieldingly ladylike Vinnie emerges as an effervescent narrator with a love of life and a grand story worth the price of admission. (July) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
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