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Book Reviews: Two Exciting Novels by Melanie Benjamin

Book Reviews: Two Exciting Novels by Melanie Benjamin
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Do you ever find yourself in a reading rut? I sometimes get stuck when it comes to picking my next book. I prefer fiction. The more action the better. Or drama with romance thrown in for good measure. However, when I recently stumbled upon a new author I’d never tried before, I decided to take a chance and read her work. Here are my reviews of two amazing historical novels you won’t want to miss.

The Autobiography of Mrs. Tom Thumb:

A Novel

By Melanie Benjamin

This was a well-researched story, based on the real-life of Lavinia “Vinnie” Warren Bump, better known as Mrs. Tom Thumb. At two feet, eight inches tall, life as a Little Person wasn’t easy for Vinnie. She was expected to live hidden away from the public, but instead she introduced herself to P.T. Barnum, and became part of his sideshow. Then, her marriage to equally tiny General Tom Thumb thrust her into the spotlight and made her an international celebrity. She lived an exciting life, traveling to the White House, meeting queens and kings, and conquering the hearts of everyone she met.

But the price of fame cost Vinnie in ways she never could imagine, when her precious younger sister Minnie – of similar stature and size – is caught up in her sister’s spotlight.

What I Liked Best

Benjamin did a wonderful job of bringing this fascinating woman’s story to life, within the context of the social and political history of her time. I loved the way she captured nineteenth-century America with her vivid descriptions. And how she unflinchingly showed each character’s faults and regrets, as well as their hopes and dreams. This well-researched and engaging story will keep you turning pages until the very end. For a tiny woman, Mrs. Tom Thumb dared to live a very big life.

*You can find a copy of this novel here.

The Aviator’s Wife: A Novel

by Melanie Benjamin

The Aviator’s Wife reveals the story behind the marriage of one of America’s most extraordinary couples: Charles Lindbergh and Anne Morrow Lindbergh.

On vacation in Mexico City with her family, shy college student, Anne Morrow, meets Colonel Charles Lindbergh, who just finished his amazing solo flight across the Atlantic. Charles sees in Anne a fellow adventurer, and soon the two marry in a very publicized wedding.

Over the next few years, Anne becomes the first licensed female glider pilot in America, as well as an expert radio operator and navigator. Although together “the first couple of the air” set many aviation records, she is never seen as more than simply the aviator’s wife.

Her hopes for a fairy-tale life with Charles instead turn into heartbreak with the kidnapping and murder of their first born child, in 1932. Fleeing to Europe, they lived in self-imposed exile for a number of years. Hunted by the press, they paid the ultimate price for their fame and fortune.

Few people know her entire story – including her accomplishments as an aviator in her own right – as she was a fiercely private person. Anne had grit, determination, and inner strength. She stood tall in the shadow of her husband, Charles. When Anne was finally able to be honest with herself about her equal need for love, and independence, she chose to embrace her ability to change and find happiness.

What I Liked Best

Although difficult to read at times (I shed some tears on this one) and filled with triumph and pain, I loved the raw truth in this novel. After reading this, I did my own research on Anne Lindbergh – who became a successful author – and was pleased to find a copy of her little book, Gift from the Sea.

*You can find a copy of The Aviator’s Wife here.

Check these out today! For more reviews, click here. -Sbmccoy