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Madame Tussaud: A Novel of the French Revolution Paperback – December 27, 2011
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"Certain to be a breakout book for Moran, this superbly written and plotted work is a welcome addition to historical fiction collections. The shocking actions and behavior required of Tussaud to survive the revolution make the novel a true page-turner and a perfect reading group choice."--Library Journal, starred review
"This is a first-class novel, brilliantly written, and Michelle Moran has authentically evoked an era, infusing her narrative with passages of gripping and often horrifying drama, set in one of history's most brutal periods. The scope of the author's research is staggering, but you won't need to get to the notes at the end to realize that. As historical novels go, this is of the first rank--a page-turner that is both vividly and elegantly written. I feel privileged to be able to endorse it."—Alison Weir, author of Eleanor of Aquitane
"Moran’s latest is an excellent and entertaining novel steeped in the zeitgeist of the period. Highly recommended."--Historical Novels Review, Editors' Choice
"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."--Publishers Weekly
"Madame Tussaud...is brought to life in this well-crafted, fast-paced novel by the talented Michelle Moran...Michelle Moran has done what few novelists have been successfully able to accomplish, and that is to depict the full range of the swift political changes that occurred in the few years from the fall of the Bastille to the beheading of the king. Madame Tussaud promises to be a breakout book for this talented writer—a novel that is both a gripping fictionalized biography of an intriguing woman and a well-paced, illuminating chronicle of the French Revolution."--New York Journal of Books
"Well-plotted...Mannered and elegant; reminiscent in many ways of novels of days long past."--Kirkus
From the Hardcover edition.
About the Author
MICHELLE MORAN was a public high school teacher for six years and is currently a full-time writer living in California. She is the author of the national bestseller Nefertiti, The Heretic Queen, and Cleopatra's Daughter.
From the Hardcover edition.
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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.
The name Madame Tussaud is synonomous with the wax figure industry which originated in Paris and moved to the U.K, and now is a worldwide phenomenon. The historical context was well-rendered and quite accurate, giving some "cameo" appearances from Thomas Jefferson before he was the U.S. president, among other heroric political figures. I found the book a little heavy on names and historical accuracies and therefore didn't connect to some of the characters as hoped. I will say that as the French Revolution progressed, the story became that much more gritty and unsettling--however, I've certainly read more compelling historial fiction. Some reviews are claiming MADAME TOSSAUD is not Moran's strongest work, and having not read any of her other work, I am at loss on commenting on that.
I most definitely enjoyed the art and science behind the concept of wax modeling, but wanted a little more in terms of psychological unease.
See all of my reviews, including author interviews at www.leslielindsay.com
As tensions grow in Paris over issues with the monarchy and food shortages, Marie, her mother and 'uncle' must tread uneasily between the people and the royals. They cannot have their alliances questioned by either faction, and do everything they possibly can to give the appearance of their neutrality. Their very lives depend on it. Marie is made to create death masks of dead nobles whose heads have been paraded through the city. When the King and his family are forcibly removed from governance, everyone associated with them is also arrested and Marie is imprisoned. Each day she fears beheading, as the guillotine is in constant use. She believes her brothers, member of the Royal Guard, to have been killed.
Although the novel is not entirely historically accurate, it is a good representation of events and is written so well and so thrillingly, I had a difficult time putting it down.