Ari's Reviews > Madame Tussaud: A Novel of the French Revolution

Madame Tussaud by Michelle Moran
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's review
Jun 26, 2012

really liked it
bookshelves: read-in-2012, france
Read in June, 2012

IQ "The only thing money is good for, Marie, is buying time. The time to do the things you like" Henri, pg. 88

HEAR, HEAR! I'm sure many people have said similar things but nevertheless I love that quote because that's exactly how I WISH I could feel sometimes. Alas I think more often than not I'm more like Marie, willing to risk my heart for money, doing everything I can to make an extra bit of money. Marie is a workaholic, she craves security and only money can provide that for her, not a man, not a family. She somehow manages to straddle both tumultous worlds of the late 18th century France. She is a tutor to King Louis XVI's sister but her uncle hosts salons that include Robespierre, the duc D'Orleans, Jean-Paul Marat and other movers and shakers during and after the French revolution.

MADAME TUSSAUD takes a long time to really get going and I think the author probably could have excluded some bits of information because this book was ridiculously long. I had to keep putting it down (sidenote: I did end up with the Large Text version so maybe that's why it was extra long??) because the length seemed overwhelming plus the CARNAGE. This book really hit home for me as to how awful the French Revolution was, all the noble and working class lives it ruined. This book got majorly depressing which surprised me. The biggest downside to this book is all the historical information crammed in. The information is FABULOUS, the history nerd in me was doing cartwheels because I feel so knowledgable now but the information felt shoved down my throat. Marie was constantly explaining people and events that she probably would not realistically have gone into long explanations about.

All the tidbits of French sprinkled throughout the novel especially because certain expressions were not explained, only slang and words for fashion. The beginning of each chapter included a quote from a primary source which I thought was an excellent, extra special touch. A very thorough historical portrait of a fascinating woman. Most remarkable for me was that the book made me more sympathetic to Queen Marie Antoinette. I always felt bad for her because she lost everything but I always secretly harbored the idea that she was selfish and naive. I think she was naive but less so than her husband and I think she truly cared for her people, the French people.

PS I loved this quote from the author describing hsitorical figures in general and Marie especially "Sometimes, it is not the kings and queens who make for the most fasscinating history but the shadowy souls who happen to be in the right place at the right time. While Marie certainly would not have considered herself lucky to have lived through such a devastating period, history is fortunate that she remained still long enough to record the events that raged on around her." pg.668

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