By Melanie Benjamin
Published July 26, 2011
Publisher Delacorte Press
She was only two-foot 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 transformed into the world’s most unexpected celebrity.
“I will begin my story in the conventional way, with my ancestry.”
She may have been born normal size (tipping the scales at 6 lbs!), Mercy Lavinia Warren Bump, aka Vinnie, quite growing after her first year. She matured in all ways but in height but she more than made up for that by living larger than life and never letting her size keep her from seeing the world. The only thing she didn’t allow herself was love. Even though she married Mr. Tom Thumb it was a marriage of convenience and she never let herself fall in love with him or let him know her as a husband should. Heart-warming and heart-wrenching all folded into one this story will take you on a journey of the soul and heart.
I was swept up in Vinnie’s adventures and tribulations. From her early years as a schoolteacher to her harrowing escape from the squirmy Colonel Wood all the way to her time with the P.T. Barnum we become invested in Vinnie’s life. She was always reaching for the next big thing. Her overprotective manner to her sister Minnie comes out of fear of what Vinnie herself won’t allow herself to experience and when Minnie sets out on her own we see the vulnerability that hasn’t before been allowed to surface in Vinnie. In the end P.T. Barnum said it well with this:
“And Minnie-she’s different than you, no matter how much you try to convince yourself otherwise. She isn’t you, because she’s happy. And you’re not.”pg.~333
I would recommend this book for all historical fiction lovers. The contents of this book will have you flipping pages to see what Minnie will do next. It will also bring you joy and tears (yes..the tears flowed freely). I will definitely be reading other books by Melanie.
PURCHASE THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF MRS. TOM THUMB
OTHER BOOKS BY MELANIE BENJAMIN