Genre: Historical Fiction
Published: February 15th 2011 Crown Publishing
In this deft historical novel, Madame Tussaud (1761-1850) escapes the pages of trivia quizzes to become a real person far more arresting than even her waxwork sculptures. Who among us knew, for instance, that she moved freely through the royal court of Louis XVI, only to become a prisoner of the Reign of Terror? Her head was shaven for guillotining, but she escaped execution, though she was forced to make death masks for prominent victims.
Michelle Moran does not disappoint, because once more she brings history to life in an amazing novel.
Where to start, so much is going on here. Marie Grosholtz works with her Uncle making wax sculptures and she is good at it. The year is 1788 and Paris is growing restless. In her uncles Salon men like Robespierre, The Duc d’ Orleans and other revolutionaries meet and discuss the state, and the need for a new government. Revolution is in the air and is just gets worse and worse, until the Reign of Terror. But Marie is always on that line in between. She is a tutor to Princess Elizabeth, the king’s sister, and at the same time she knows the leaders of the revolution. Her family is good at staying alive. She even makes masks of people she dislike, just to stay alive. She lives through those horrible years and when it end the book ends. So for the most of this book she is not Madame Tussaud at all, but she is working towards that fame she has now.
The book is amazing. The horror is so real, and I can say that France during that time is not a place I would have wanted to visit. At one time an angry mob goes crazy killing prisoners, women, and children, 14000 people dead just like that. And at this time the guillotine has not even started taking its victims, that comes later. In the afterwords Moran also explains that up to 80% that died by the guillotine were in fact commoners, and not nobles at all. Everyone got accused, innocent commoner s and nobles alike.
I am there with Marie when she tries to find fame and fortune, when she grows closer with her neighbour and when she watches the Terror at hand. The book does make it easier to understand that time, all the changes, but also about the King and Queen. They were so clueless because no one told them anything, and they could not do anything either because it would either make the people or the nobility angry. Moran works her magic well there with this horrible and confusing time.
A great book about a woman we all have heard about, but who most know nothing about.
Recommendation and final thoughts:
A big yes to all who like historical fiction, or those who just want to read a great book. Moran becomes with this one my favourite historical writer, I have read 3 wonderful novels by her. And with each she captures her audience better and better. I can’t wait to see what she does next, because I will read it.
A 4,5 to this book. Everything is flawless, the writing, the story, the building.
Reason for reading:
Like I said, she is the best.