Book Review – The Autobiography of Mrs. Tom Thumb

The Autobiography of Mrs. Tom ThumbThe Autobiography of Mrs. Tom Thumb by Melanie Benjamin

My rating:4 out of 5 stars (4 / 5)

I’m not sure what prompted me to pick up this book while browsing at the library. The cover design is cute, sure, and the title is enough to catch your eye, but while I do have a strong interest in the history of the circus/carnival world, I had never really thought much about Lavinia Warren, the wife of PT Barnum’s infamous Tom Thumb, as she lived mostly outside of the world of the circus, as a part of more genteel society.

But even my tiny bit of knowledge of her life intrigued me. I never knew why exactly it was that she seemed seperate from much of the rest of Barnum’s curiosities and exhibitions, but this book taught me the reason through the precise and ladylike voice of Ms. Warren herself, as imagined by the author in this fabulous fictional autobiography of the tiny woman who took the world by storm, dined with Vanderbilts and royalty, rode early trains and riverboats, ran with the Civil War at her back only to walk straight into Asia and the Middle East when those areas were barely on the radar of even adventurers of her era.

For a tiny woman, Lavinia Warren lived a huge, amazing life. Though it had it’s moments of both tragedy and triumph, what I found the most interesting were the little details of her everyday life, as envisioned by the author in stunning detail. This book is rich with possibilities in a world that is real enough to touch. Fantastically written, joyously triumphant, and achingly, heartbreakingly authentic, this is a book for any fan of interesting figures in history.

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