What happens when you get P.T. Barnum, President Lincoln, Walt Whitman, Ulysses S. Grant, The Queen, and John Wilkes Booth all in the same book? Oh, and a dwarf—two of them. Well, it should be really interesting, right? Publishers Weekly called it, “Top-notch entertainment”; Booklist called it “Rollicking”. I’m not sure which book they were reading, because this book could have been SO. MUCH. MORE.
Reading this, I’m kicking myself for not have visiting the Barnum museum in Bridgeport yet. I spent most of this book on Google digging out the true story of General Tom Thumb and P.T. Barnum and the Civil War. Yeah, that’s a great thing about historical fiction: It’s a great learning experience. It’s all a testament to the book itself. It wasn’t “fast-paced and brightly colored” as Kirkus said; it was more ho-hum and grayish-dull. Again, could have been SO. MUCH. MORE.
For a good summary of this book, check out TChris’s (Top 100 Reviewer) summary in his review: http://www.amazon.com/review/RE7L8YH6XLY65/ref=cm_cr_pr_perm?ie=UTF8&ASIN=1476727325
The author Nicholas Rinaldi has three collections of poetry that sound interesting, so I was looking forward to what the New York Times Book Review called “sprawling and elegant”. I really don’t make a habit of calling out and questioning other reviews, but when they are all over the product page…I kind of need to. Nothing aggravates me more than thinking the consumer is being duped (false author book blurbs are a big pet peeve of mine). If I was to call a book “sprawling and elegant”, even poetic, I would refer to ALL THE LIGHT WE CANNOT SEE, also published by Scribner this year. That work was an excellent piece of historical fiction that really made me feel something. Sadly, Tom Thumb did not entertain me the way he should have—the way he entertained thousands of people in real life.
Thank you Scribner for providing this book electronically for me to review.
You can see this book’s preview and other reviews: The Remarkable Courtship of General Tom Thumb: A Novel