cover image The Autobiography of Mrs. Tom Thumb

The Autobiography of Mrs. Tom Thumb

Melanie Benjamin. Delacorte, $25 (432p) ISBN 978-0-385-34415-9

Mercy Lavinia "Vinnie" Warren Bump, the diminutive wife of Gen. Tom Thumb, narrates her life story in this vivacious%C2%A0fictionalized autobiography that takes her from a small New England%C2%A0town to a seedy Mississippi showboat and eventually%C2%A0into the entourage of the impresario P.T. Barnum. Born with%C2%A0proportionate dwarfism, Vinnie, a "perfect woman in miniature," rejects a career as a schoolteacher in favor of show%C2%A0business, eventually finding an intellectual soul mate in Barnum and%C2%A0international fame that leads her into the opulence of New York%C2%A0society and meetings with heads of state from the%C2%A0White House to Europe and India. Benjamin (Alice I Have%C2%A0Been) centers the latter half of her tale around Vinnie and Barnum's%C2%A0odd-couple friendship and touchy business%C2%A0relationship, sometimes glossing frustratingly over Vinnie's%C2%A0own adventures%E2%80%94a three-year tour of Australia and Asia is%C2%A0given only a few pages%E2%80%94and leaving the last 40 years%C2%A0of her life untold. But the smart and unyieldingly ladylike%C2%A0Vinnie emerges as an effervescent narrator with a love of life and a grand story worth the price of admission. (July)