In 1870 the celebrated midget General Tom Thumb and his troupe are touring Australia. While in Melbourne, Tom Thumb is rescued from the Yarra River by an impoverished governess, Mary Ann. She is hired by the troupe, but soon realises that relationships between the little people and their entourage are far from harmonious.
When it becomes clear to everyone that Mary Ann is pregnant, Tom Thumb and his wife hatch a plan that appears to provide her child with a secure future. Others among the touring performers are less happy with these developments, however, and Mary Ann starts to wonder just whom she can trust. As the pregnancy proceeds, Mary Ann's life and that of her child seem increasingly in danger.
This gripping historical novel is full of strange showbiz folk and has all the colour and flair of the circus, complete with sideshows starring the little people themselves. Reminiscent of the fantastical tales of Angela Carter and early Peter Carey, and of Sara Gruen's bestselling Water for Elephants, Little People will charm and beguile you.
‘A pure delight – I fell in love with this glorious novel from the very first page. Little People is vibrant storytelling at its charismatic best.’ — Toni Jordan
'Set in a fascinating milieu ... a most enjoyable read.' — Bookseller and Publisher
About the Author
Jane Sullivan was the winner of the inaugural Australian Human Rights Award for journalism. At present she writes a Saturday column and features about books and writing for The Age. Her first novel was The White Star and her second novel, Little People, was shortlisted in the CAL-Scribe Fiction Prize.
Review from Bookseller and Publisher Magazine.
Inspired by the real life tour by a troupe of "little people" to Australia in 1870, this quirky novel is the second from literary journalist Jane Sullivan. It is ostensibly the story of Mary Ann, recently released from employment by the amorous father of her ward and bearing his child. Standing on the banks of the Yarra contemplating suicide, she sees a child fall from a bridge and rushes to its rescue. The child is in fact Charles Stratton, known as General Tom Thumb, the charismatic entertainer who along with his wife, the beautiful and perfectly formed Lavinia, her restless and willful sister Minnie, and rival for lead Commodore George Washington Nutt, inhabit a world of barefy restrained, savage curiosity in the employ of PT Barnum. Taken as dresser by the two diminutive ladies, Mary Ann is exposed to the strange and transient life they lead but as time passes, she begins to guess that her position there may have more to do with the child she carries than her act of heroism...The language and voices of the characters do a fine job of placing the story in its historical context and the story itself is interestingly textured and set in a fascinating milieu. This is a most enjoyable read.
Number Of Pages: 352
Published: 26th March 2011
Publisher: Scribe Publications
Dimensions (cm): 23.4 x 15.3