New book spotlights the life of Barnum superstar and Bridgeport native Tom Thumb

Author Nicholas Rinaldi to read from his latest work at Fairfield University

Image: N RinaldiNicholas Rinaldi, Ph.D., author and professor emeritus at Fairfield University, will read from his latest book, "The Remarkable Courtship of General Tom Thumb" (Scribner, 2014), at 7 p.m. on Thursday, October 2, at the University's Aloysius P. Kelley, S.J. Center on campus. The talk is free and open to the public.

Rinaldi's long-awaited fourth novel, based on the life of the diminutive Bridgeport showman, truly lives up to the superlative title and reveals the author, an award-winning novelist and poet, as a craftsman at the top of his form.

"Rinaldi imaginatively blends fact and fiction in this breezy 19th-century historical," wrote a reviewer for Publishers Weekly, calling the new novel "top-notch entertainment."

Set against the backdrop of the Civil War, the irresistible new book centers on the life of Tom Thumb, a young man only twenty-five inches tall when he first appeared on stage, destined to become America's most widely recognized entertainer at home and abroad.

Discovered at age four by P.T. Barnum, Tom Thumb (born Charles Stratton) soon found himself traveling internationally, sitting on the laps of the queens of Europe, and entertaining the masses at Barnum's highly successful American Museum in New York City. Tom and his wife, Lavinia Warren, were even hosted at the White House by President Lincoln. With the country at war, they set out on their honeymoon tour and witnessed firsthand the fracture between the states, the heroism of young soldiers, and the unbreakable spirit of the American people.

Written in a witty and lyrical voice, with a colorful secondary cast including Lincoln, Barnum and Walt Whitman, this is an evocative, poignant imagining of one man's story at a unique moment in American history.

A longtime member of the English faculty at Fairfield, Rinaldi unveiled his last novel, the critically acclaimed "Between Two Rivers," in 2005. The Bridgeport resident is also the author of "The Jukebox Queen of Malta," "Bridge Fall Down" and three volumes of poetry.

The Boston Globe has called Rinaldi's work "wryly humorous and periodically heart-rending," while The New York Times exclaimed "Joseph Heller, William Styron, Norman Mailer ... Rinaldi belongs in their company."

This event is presented by Fairfield's MFA in Creative Writing and the Department of English. For more information, contact Elizabeth Hastings, or (203) 254-4000, ext. 2688. For more information on the book and Rinaldi, visit

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Media Contact: Meredith Guinness, (203) 254-4000, ext. 2950,

Posted on September 5, 2014

Vol. 47, No. 40

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