An irresistible novel that “charts a harrowing tour through the Civil War” (Connecticut Post) and chronicles the life of Tom Thumb—the tiny man who became, in his time, America’s most famous entertainer.
“I was four years old when Barnum discovered me, and soon to turn five when I first appeared on the big stage of his American Museum.” So begins the story of Tom Thumb, who at just twenty-five-inches tall, rises to global fame as America’s most beloved entertainer. With his parents’ blessing, Tom comes of age in Barnum’s five-story gallery of oddities, exploring its mystical artifacts and exotic animals between his performances to sold-out crowds. One day in the museum’s basement menagerie, Tom meets a new performer, Lavinia Warren, who stands three inches shorter than he. It’s love at first sight, and Barnum quickly arranges the largest wedding reception New York City has ever seen. As cannon fire echoes across Bull Run and Antietam, both North and South are briefly united by their fascination with “General” Tom Thumb and his beautiful, petite wife.
Despite the Civil War, Tom and Lavinia embark on a honeymoon tour, where they encounter cities and people ravaged by the ongoing conflict. But as the tour winds down, an unexpected danger follows Tom and Lavinia back home.
Witty, lyrical, and with a colorful cast of notable figures of the period, The Remarkable Courtship of General Tom Thumb is an evocative, poignant imagining of one man’s story, from a “master of elegant prose and psychological insight” (Entertainment Weekly).
Nicholas Rinaldi is the author of three previous novels (Bridge FallDown, The Jukebox Queen of Malta, and Between Two Rivers) and three collections of poetry. His work has been widely reviewed and earned many awards in the United States and abroad. With his wife, Jacqueline, he currently resides in Connecticut. Please visit his website at NicholasRinaldi.net.
“Nicholas Rinaldi is a writer I’ve admired for some time, but his latest — The Remarkable Courtship of General Tom Thumb — took me by surprise. It’s a stunning tour of an era, an American psychological landscape, with its bravura and tragic headstrong drive to command more and more of the world in every sense. Rinaldi doesn’t really have to make it up. The absurd history leaps at him. But he catches it, shapes and gives it body and language. This is an achievement — a lively, instructive romp that tells us as much about our time as ‘back then.’”
– Jay Parini, author of "The Last Station" and "The Passages of H.M."
"Imaginatively blends fact and fiction... Top-notch entertainment."
– Publishers Weekly
“On one level Rinaldi has written a lively historical novel about Tom Thumb. But this book is so much more than that. It is about that most human of conditions, those trembling moments when hot passion and the desire for love just seem too big and overwhelming for our puny bodies trying to contain such powerful emotions.”
– Richard C. Morais, author of "The Hundred-Foot Journey" and "Buddhaland Brooklyn"
"In exquisite counterpoint, Rinaldi's book makes history live again in accounts of the Civil War and that of Barnum and the unforgettable General Tom Thumb."
– Sue Walker, Alabama Poet Laureate, Stokes Distinguished Professor of Creative Writing, University of South Alabama
"Rollicking. . .Rinaldi also illuminates the Civil War backdrop to great effect. . . history lovers will find plenty here to appreciate."
“Fast-paced and brightly colored…A cast of thousands, daring escapes, sweeping vistas: Rinaldi does his idea justice with swift pacing and spectacle.”
– Kirkus Reviews
“Charts a harrowing tour through the Civil War…a vivid story.”