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Madame Tussaud: A Novel of the French Revolution Paperback – December 27, 2011
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From Publishers Weekly
From Versailles to Boulevard du Temple, royalists to revolutionaries, art to science, Moran (Cleopatra's Daughter) returns with a new historical novel of fierce polarities. Set during the French Revolution, with an emphasis on the Reign of Terror, Moran's fourth deftly chronicles the consequences of seeking reversals in power-or liberty. Marie Grosholtz, the talented wax sculptress who would become Madame Tussaud, narrates with verve. She and her family are "survivalists" who "straddle both worlds until it's clear which side will be the victor..." but never come across as opportunists; they are resourceful, sympathetic individuals facing an unraveling nation and an increasingly angry mob mentality. Though readers may wince at the inevitable beheadings, the storming of the Bastille, and the actions of men like Robespierre, Moran tempers brutality with Marie's romance and passion for artistry; quiet moments in the family's atelier provide much needed respite. This is an unusually moving portrayal of families in distress, both common and noble. Marie Antoinette in particular becomes a surprisingly dimensional figure rather than the fashionplate, spendthrift caricature depicted in the pamphlets of her times. A feat for Francophiles and adventurers alike.
(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Marie Tussaud, she of the wax museum, lived a long and colorful life, but the focus here is on 1788�94, when she was a young woman in Paris. Under the tutelage of a Swiss doctor whom she calls her uncle, she has become an accomplished artist as well as an astute businesswoman, helping to run the family firm, the Salon de Cire, with its changing array of exhibits of historical and contemporary figures in wax. Hired as a wax tutor by the king�s sister, Madame Elisabeth, she gains an entr�e into Versailles. Her uncle�s home, meanwhile, serves as a regular meeting place for Robespierre and other revolutionaries. First and foremost a survivor, during the Revolution Marie makes models of its heroes and its victims alike. Moran takes liberties with the facts, as any historical novelist has a right to do; but some of her inventions tend to clutter up a story that is already fascinating on its own. Still, readers will be intrigued by Madame Tussaud, and by witnessing a tumultuous era through her eyes. --Mary Ellen Quinn --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Top customer reviews
The book is about Marie Gresholtz who lives with her uncle Curtius and her mother Anne. They have a place on the Boulevard in Paris where they have rooms with wax statues that they use to tell the news. They are friends with many of the soon to be "patriots" in the French Revolution and they also have had King Louis XVI and his wife Marie Antoinette visit the wax museum. After this visit Marie Gresholtz is called to tutor Princess Elizabeth, King Louis XVI's sister, in the art of wax sculpting.
As the book continues we learn how the revolution starts, the many people included in it, the tightrope balance between being a patriot and/or a royalist. All through this time we keep up with many characters, including Gresholtz's 3 brothers, the royal family, the patriots, the dressmaker and many others. Also there is Henri, Gresholtz's next door neighbor and love interest and Lichin the shops only other employee, a teen boy who mainly announces what the attraction in the shop is that day. The book follows her from the beginning of the revolution to after the revolution and The author does do one of my favorite things about her books an afterword on what happens to some of the main characters.
So why in my opinion am I not giving this a higher review? Her Egyptian books were excellent, descriptive and hard to put down. This book put me to sleep many times. It does have action at some points and the last 200 pages speed up with complete action but it took so long to get there and so many characters, I would lose the way.
I did learn a lot about the French Revolution that I never knew. The wax news was interesting but a little too much was put in about it. The royal family are just visits here and there and those have more to do with wax modeling and religion then any of the intrigues going on. I would still recommend this book to historical fiction people and book clubs, especially history ones.
Michelle Moran does a wonderful job bringing you back to that era. Making you understand exactly how the mood was during that time. I found myself wanting to know more about that era, and researching parts that were briefly depicted in the novel so I could understand it more thoroughly. The author sparks that fascination and brings the characters back to life in the horrific tale of the French Revolution.
Each chapter states the time frame and starts off with a Quote that was documented from that time period. The novel follows Madame Tussaud who was known at that time as Marie Grosholtz. She lived with her uncle Curtius and her mother at the Salon de Cire learning the art of wax. The salon was a great attraction for people of that time, to come and get the latest news of the time depicted through wax figurines made by Marie and Curtius.
To read about Marie Grosholtz and learning about all she had to endure during the French Revolution, was pretty emotional. Changing the wax figures and Tableau to correspond with the latest news whether she agreed with it or not, making death masks of recently decapitated prisoners, tolerating the rapid change of the government and not knowing if she would be the next they would take prisoner or not. Michelle Moran pulled out the emotion of the characters and really making you feel like you, yourself are there as well. It was hard not to feel for the characters as they suffered the worst.
At the end of the novel, the author, ties up all the loose end and briefly recaps the lives of the characters who futures were not told in the book. She also goes on to explain the history of the time and what was completely true in the book. There is a glossary at the end of the book as well to help with some of the French words along the way. Although, with a kindle it is kind of hard to go back and forth between the story and the glossary.
The novel was very easy to read and flowed really nicely. I can't wait to read Michelle Moran's next historical fiction!