Friday, April 1, 2011

Review: Madame Tussaud

Madame Tussaud
By Michelle Moran
Publication date: February 7, 2011

My review:

Marie Grosholtz learned the art of wax modelling from her "uncle" Curtius at a young age. Now with her artistic skill and business acumen, Marie has helped to turn Curtius's Salon de Cire into a first rate wax museum renowned for its lifelike sculptures and tableaux. When her artistry comes to the attention of the royal family, Marie is asked to tutor Louis XVI's sister, Princesse Elisabeth. Marie is amazed by the grandeur of life at court as well as the piety and charitable works of Princesse Elisabeth who is nothing like the other courtiers. Still, this is a dangerous time to be close to the royals as there is mounting unrest among the people of Paris. At home, Marie is surrounded by those who would like to see change in the way the country is run, people like Robespierre, Camille Demoulins, and Jean-Paul Marat, future leaders of the French Revolution. Which side will Marie choose and how will she survive the coming storm?

I've read other historical fiction books that included Marie as a character but I still didn't know that much about her. She is quite a character-strong, intelligent, creative, and somewhat mercenary. That last characteristic made her a hard character to like or empathize with. She had to make some tough choices to survive the French Revolution but her need to make a profit sometimes made her come across as heartless or without scruples. Still, I admired her talent.

I enjoyed the historical details and the descriptions of the wax sculptures and fashions. I also liked the political background that is presented. It paints a clear picture of what is going on in France and what led to the Revolution. We get to see both sides through Marie's eyes. Curtius's home served as a meeting place for the Revolutionaries and it was interesting to see the birth of that movement. There are quite a lot of characters to keep track of but thankfully there is a list at the beginning of the book that explains who everyone is. I really liked the character of Henri Charles, someone I hadn't heard of before. I also liked learning more about Princess Elisabeth.

While I thought Madame Tussaud was not as good as Moran's last book, Cleopatra's Daughter, it was still a fascinating story about a remarkable woman who lived during a terrifying time in French history. It is very detailed and well researched. Marie Grosholtz Tussaud may not be very likeable at times but she is unforgettable. Michelle Moran again proves that she is a skilled writer of historical fiction. I would suggest this to those interested in the French Revolution and fans of Moran's other work.

Readalikes: The Queen's Dollmaker by Christine Trent, The Secret Life of Josephine by Carolly Erickson, The Bad Queen by Carolyn Meyer (YA, but an interesting and detailed portrayal of Marie Antoinette)


  1. I've been wondering about this one since I'm kind of picky about my historicals. Sounds like it's a good one.

  2. I have read a few reviews for this book and after reading Revolution, I have been quite interested in the ere this book is set. Madame Tussand sound like a very colorful woman and this book sound awesome. Great review!

  3. I loved this book! It was the first one I read by Moran. I'll check out the recc's you listed.


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