Monday, August 27, 2018

Nonfiction Monday- The Big, Bold, Adventurous Life of Lavinia Warren

39090982Raum, Elizabeth. The Big, Bold, Adventurous Life of Lavinia Warren
September 4th 2018 by Chicago Review Press

E ARC from Edelweiss Plus

In the mid-1800s, there were not a lot of life choices for women. Lavinia Warren, nee' Mercy Bump, might have had even fewer options due to her extremely short stature, but instead she successfully completed a year of elementary school teaching after graduating herself. Then, a cousin who was also a promoter of curiosities offered her an unusual opportunity-- come work on his floating museum and travel the world. Accepting this job meant that Lavinia was in a position that few women at the time could have managed. She earned a great deal of money, met the wealthy and famous, lived in relative luxury, and traveled the world. The downside of this, of course, was that people came to gawk at her because she was less than three feet tall. Still, she also managed to marry fellow little person Charles Stratton and have a presumably happy marriage (although no children) at a time when even this option was out of reach for some women.

This biography read like the ones I remember growing up-- while not at all short on facts, the details of daily life were so absorbing that I felt like I learned a lot about what it was like to live during this time. Drawing heavily from Warren's autobiography for the woman's feelings about events and topics, Raum has balanced the difficulties of being of short stature with the difficulties of Warren's resultant fame in a way that doesn't negate these difficulties or manipulate us into feeling that she must be pitied or celebrated for how she lived her life.

Period photographs do a great job at adding a feeling for the styles and locations of the period, and the descriptions of the world travel alone make this a book worth reading. At about 176 pages, this is a fun biography that I hope to be able to entice readers to enjoy!
Ms. Yingling

1 comment:

  1. Guess who's related to Lavinia Bump? Me! I was just on amazon reading about the book and saw your review :) I don't know how this one flew under my radar for these past months!