Author: Michelle Moran
File Size (Pages): 3205 KB (446 pages)
Challenges: 2012 Support Your Library, 2012 Historical Fiction Challenge
Genre: Historical Fiction
Description: Smart and ambitious, Marie Tussaud has learned the secrets of wax sculpting by working alongside her uncle in their celebrated wax museum, the Salon de Cire. From her popular model of the American ambassador, Thomas Jefferson, to her tableau of the royal family at dinner, Marie's museum provides Parisians with the very latest news on fashion, gossip, and even politics. Her customers hail from every walk of life, yet her greatest dream is to attract the attention of Marie Antoinette and Louis XVI; their stamp of approval on her work could catapult her and her museum to the fame and riches she desires. After months of anticipation, Marie learns that the royal family is willing to come and see their likenesses. When they finally arrive, the king's sister is so impressed that she requests Marie's presence at Versailles as a royal tutor in wax sculpting. It is a request Marie knows she cannot refuse--even if it means time away
from her beloved Salon and her increasingly dear friend, Henri Charles.
As Marie gets to know her pupil, Princesse elisabeth, she also becomes acquainted with the king and queen, who introduce her to the glamorous life at court. From lavish parties with more delicacies than she's ever seen to rooms filled with candles lit only once before being discarded, Mariesteps into a world entirely different from her home on the Boulevard du Temple, where people are selling their teeth in order to put food on the table.
Meanwhile, many resent the vastseparation between rich and poor. In salons and cafes across Paris, people like Camille Desmoulins, Jean-Paul Marat, and Maximilien Robespierre are lashing out against the monarchy. Soon, there's whispered talk of revolution. . . . Will Marie be able to hold on to both the love of her life and her friendship with the royal family as France approaches civil war? And more important, will she be able to fulfill thedemands of powerful revolutionaries who ask that she make the death masks of beheaded aristocrats, some of whom she knows?
Spanning five years, from the budding revolution to the Reign ofTerror, "Madame Tussaud" brings us into the world of an incredible heroine whose talent for wax modeling saved her life and preserved the faces of a vanished kingdom. (via Goodreads.com)
Thoughts: First off, I should mention that the book starts off before Madame Tussaud gets married and therefore throughout most of the book she is known as Marie Grosholtz and I suppose for sales, the publisher or whoever was in charge of making this decision, the book was named Madame Tussaud.
I really enjoyed this book and the only reason that it took me longer than it should have was because it was on my e-reader, which some of you know isn't the greatest in sunshine and therefore took me longer to read it. But despite that, I really did become engrossed with Marie's life and that of her family and judging by the afterword, which mentions a number of the historical figures in the book, was pretty accurate. I am sure that Ms. Moran took some liberties with the novel, but what historical novel hasn't taken some liberties and because I had just finished Catherine the Great within the last two weeks, I had some of the historical knowledge of the French Revolution still with me. Sure I knew the basics of the French Revolution, but this book definitely humanized not only the French public, but also humanized the French Royal family and made them somewhat sympathetic.
This is my first book that I have read by Michelle Moran, so I am not really aware of her style and therefore this review has been somewhat clouded by that fact. Overall, I enjoyed the book and thought it was very enjoyable and really liked the historical details that Moran put in the book, like the death of the journalist Jean-Paul Marat, which was symbolized by the painting by Jacques-Louis David, called The Death of Marat (which most people have probably seen while taking an art history survey course).
Bottom line: Overall, it was a pretty good book and a fairly quick read, despite the length of the book (in my version, some of the chapters were only about 3 or 4 pages long). I would recommend this book for those that enjoy reading historical fiction or for those that are interested in learning either a bit more about Madame Tussaud before she became Madame Tussaud or about the French Revolution.
Pages for 2012: 6941