This week’s review book is slightly different. Instead of being from a publisher, it was sent to me by Amazon for review in the Amazon Vine program.
The book is The Autobiography of Mrs. Tom Thumb by Melanie Benjamin. Standing only 32 inches tall as a full-grown adult, Mercy Lavinia Warren Bump was a worldwide sensation in the latter half of the nineteenth century. Her dazzling presence, already captivating many thanks to the work of the great P.T. Barnum, only grew when she married fellow Charles Stratton, also known as the famous General Tom Thumb. Although a very public figure, the personal life, thoughts, and perspective of this remarkable little woman are widely unknown. Melanie Benjamin seeks to present what would have been written had Mrs. Stratton, known to family and friends as Vinnie, taken pen to paper to share her life in her own words.
Personally, I had a hard time truly getting into the book, but I honestly do not believe that can be blamed on Melanie Benjamin’s writing abilities. She took all she could learn of Lavinia Warren Stratton and skillfully wove it into a masterful story. Although the book is admittedly fiction, it is easy to see how Benjamin’s presentation could fit the reality of this unusual world celebrity.
I believe my difficulty with the book was strictly personal. It just wasn’t my style. The main character was admirable for her refusal to allow her size to limit her life. But, she was also selfishly ambitious and willingly trampled on others to ensure her own success. Even her marriage revolved not around love but around publicity. I find it hard to enjoy a book when I dislike the main character’s personality so greatly. I struggled both to get into the book and to finish it.
One additional note: Most of the fiction I review on this blog is Christian fiction. This title is not. There is some “language” in this book, but all in all I did not find the material of the book to be incredibly offensive. Just definitely secular.