Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Book Review: The Autobiography of Mrs. Tom Thumb and a Hunger Games update

I'm on a bit of a circus binge lately.  My friend Sock Monkey Mommy read The Autobiography of Mrs. Tom Thumb and recommended it so I decided to take the plunge.  And oh...I really liked it.  First of all, the cover art is just amazing, right?  It is just so evocative of the novel.  The Autobiography of Mrs. Tom Thumb is historical fiction that is a memoir from the perspective of Mercy Lavinia Warren Bump Stratton.  She and her husband General Tom Thumb, both little people, were a headlining act for P.T. Barnum for many years.  Although there has been some non-fiction in the past written about them and Mrs. Stratton herself wrote a short autobiography (which has been described more as a travelogue) late in her life, author Melanie Benjamin takes her story in a new direction by filling in all the blanks in their story in the voice of Lavinia.

For me, it was a fascinating read.  I really didn't know much about how circuses operated in the late 1800s, and Benjamin's well researched descriptions were quite eye opening.  I also enjoyed how Benjamin told Lavinia's story with empathy and compassion.  She made special mention of the struggles she endured from being different and how she coped with them.  
The author also portrayed Mr. Barnum as a very kind and sympathetic yet driven person.  I'm interested as to whether or not that was how he was perceived in real life, and has definitely inspired me to read more about P.T. Barnum down the road.  One thing that was repetitive in the book and became a bit grating was how Lavinia clearly viewed herself as better and more clever than most people, specifically her husband.  I liked her less and less as I read the book; however, that didn't make her story any less compelling.  

I also took in the second installment in the Hunger Games trilogy---Catching Fire.  I'm really digging these books!  I have a little place of love in my heart for dystopian fiction so they've been right up my alley.  I'm on my library's hold list to get the last one, Mockingjay, and I'm really looking forward to it.  I'm planning on dragging (well, maybe not dragging since he read both the books too) the Cobbler to the theater in a couple of weeks when the first movie opens.  I can't wait to see how the casting works out.  I was kind of shocked when I heard they had cast Woody Harrelson as Haymitch.  

He looks NOTHING like I envisioned the character (I was thinking more paunchy and bearded...kind of like a smaller Hagrid from Harry Potter) so I'm curious to see his portrayal.  I'm also looking forward to seeing Lenny Kravitz as Cinna and Elizabeth Banks as Effie.  Any other Hunger Games junkies out there?  Who would you have cast as Haymitch?

My blogging has slowed way down as I'm attempting to get things back to routine at our house.  After vacation and house guests and a period of winter blues, I'm ready to get things shaped up around here.  Hope your week is off to a great start!


Jenny said...

I'm so glad you posted! I just finished the Hunger Games this past weekend, and Catching Fire should be coming from Amazon any day. I can't wait to see the movie, but I have no idea how that's going to happen with two kids. I guess my husband and I will have to wait for it to come out on DVD.

I can kind-of picture Woody Harrelsona s Haymitch, but Lenny Kravitz as Cinna is a stretch for me. I sort of pictured the make-over guy from Oprah. :)

Bright Sky Mom said...

Are you going to see the movie this weekend? My dh has read the books but not me so I don't recognize the characters. Actually, I don't even recognize the actors names you mentioned... Well, I DO know Hagrid & Harry Potter. :)