After years of feeling that The Autobiography Of Mrs. Tom Thumb would just be too weird, I finally relented when I realized Melanie Benjamin, author of The Aviator’s Wife, wrote this book too. From the first page, I loved the narrative tone of Lavinia, “Vinnie”, born into a large family as a little person. I especially respected Vinnie as a character when she accepted a teaching job in her rural community and insisted on negotiating her salary herself, rather than following custom and allowing her father to do it for her. Vinnie’s spunky attitude made her an enjoyable character to follow.
Early on in the book, Vinnie’s desire to lead a happy life prompts her to set out for an unknown adventure and she is whisked off to perform on a riverboat against her family’s wishes. In this respect, her zest for life was admirable and inspirational. In creative ways, Vinnie overcomes ever obstacle she faces due to her size. The writing portrayed vivid characters and scenes that were fun to experience along with Vinnie and the other odd people entertaining passengers aboard the showboat. A tattooed man, a fire-eater, and a giant women made up the motley crew with whom Vinnie bonded. Even though I couldn’t wait for Vinnie to begin working with P.T. Barnum, her initial adventure was my favorite part of the book. The story of how Vinnie met and married Tom Thumb was like so many other relationships in early history, without emotion and done for social and monetary reasons. I would have liked Vinnie’s sister, also a little person, to have played a smaller role in the book. Her story portrayed an aspect of being small that was uncomfortable to read about and made that part of the novel quite dark.
Overall, I enjoyed the way this story was told and found the book to be entertaining.