Published by Broadway on February 15, 2011
Source: Purchased by Reviewer
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The world knows Madame Tussaud as a wax artist extraordinaire . . . but who was this woman who became one of the most famous sculptresses of all time? In these pages, her tumultuous and amazing story comes to life as only Michelle Moran can tell it. The year is 1788, and a revolution is about to begin.
I’m just gonna be honest here and admit that I am a MONARCH SYMPATHIZER and I despise how the French Revolution played out. *I’m looking at YOU Thomas Jefferson and Lafayette!* Looking back safely from my cocoon of present-day democratic America, with the knowledge of all I have read on the subject, I can say with conviction that I would have been an anti-revolutionary. And that’s why I enjoyed Madame Tussaud.
Michelle Moran writes Madame Tussaud from a sympathizer perspective, although she refrains from completely demonizing the revolutionaries. She presents Mme. Tussaud’s story in a way that made me question if I would have played to both sides for the sake of self-preservation as well.
When people hear the name Madame Tussaud, most of them think of this:
But Michelle Moran uses words and virtuoso story-crafting to mold the captivating character and unique history of Madame Tussaud herself.
The narrator, Marie (Mm. Tussaud), is fleshed out on multiple psychological levels. As the reader, we experience her thoughts on business, family, loyalty, love, survival, and treason. She is a clever character, and it was so fascinating to witness the inciting events of the French Revolution through her eyes.
Marie is forced to work with the people who are plotting against the King and Queen of France, but her observations of the cunning and subterfuge of the very people who should be most loyal to the Monarchy gives her a unique perspective of the situation.
Forced to walk a fine line between allegiance to the Revolution and allegiance to her Monarchs, Marie does what she has to do in order to save her family from suspicion in a city that is bent on dethroning the King and Queen.
The story unfolds over five years, starting with the first riots of the revolution up until the notorious Reign of Terror. The novel revolves around Marie and her family as she practices the unique art of creating wax models of beloved and notorious public figures alike; displaying them in her families shop, and living off of the income that customers pay to view the wax spectacles.
This story is a perfect balance of in-depth characters and a worms-eye view of the French Revolution. The pacing might be slow to the point of distraction for readers who are not fascinated by the nation-changing events unfolding in this time period, but it will be a worth-while pace for those who enjoy historical fiction that is not romance-driven. While there is a small thread of romance between the MC and a family friend, it is not enough to keep those who need a strong romance in a story captivated.
Michelle Moran’s book is a feast for Historical Fiction lovers. Fact and Fiction are symbiotic in this novel and the author immersed me in 18th Century France in all of its glory and horror.