Erin 's Reviews > Madame Tussaud

Madame Tussaud by Michelle Moran
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's review
Aug 18, 2010

really liked it
bookshelves: historic-fiction-1700s

Find this and other reviews at: http://flashlightcommentary.blogspot....

I’m willing to bet there are readers who disagree with me, but I think Michelle Moran a fabulous writer. Her style has a way of drawing you in and though I’ve no idea how, she manages to relate a lot of history without sounding like a college professor. Honestly folks, I had a lot of trouble putting Madame Tussaud down and suspect I’d have been glued to the couch my entire reading if not for the demands of a one year old.

My obvious appreciation aside, I will admit there are elements I found slightly disappointing. To begin with, Mademoiselle Grosholtz would be a far more accurate title for this piece. The story begins in 1788 and takes readers through 1795, the year Marie married Tussaud who really isn’t much of a character come to think of it. The remaining 55 years of Marie’s life are noted, but feel much like an afterthought which was frustrating as I find her life in England very interesting even compared to her time in France. The book is a wonderful story of the French Revolution, I just don’t think it a particularly good novel of Marie and her life’s work.

Another thing that bothered me was how little we see Marie indulging her artistic talents. A Royal Likeness also omitted the details, but I desperately wanted a scene in which Marie is seen molding the wax, painting the figures, or creating a tableaux. I wanted to witness her passion for crafting and feel cheated that Moran never took readers into Marie’s workroom. There is plenty of detail regarding the business itself, the financial aspects and daily operation of ticket sales and managing customers, but I think it might have been nice to explore the effort that went into manufacturing a figure and the pride of the artist when her work was finally set of display.

I was also confused by Marie’s sympathies for the royal family. I understand her personal relationship with them, but the fact that she felt more for them than her neighbors and peers left me scratching my head. Shouldn’t those relationships have caused intense conflict? People she loves were in danger on both sides, but only one came through the narrative. On the same note I would think the disparity between social classes would have made Marie more sympathetic to men like Marat and Robespierre, at least until their ideas took on a life of their own and led Paris into utter chaos. After all, Marie was a common woman and might have seen merit in some of their ideas despite the radical nature of their tactics.

I've listed many complaints, but please know they are minor at best. Moran’s work is excellently atmospheric and filled with memorable characters and genuine tension. There are things I felt missing from the novel, but Madame Tussaud is still fantastic a fiction and one I’d highly recommend to anyone interested in the French Revolution.
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Reading Progress

August 18, 2010 – Shelved
February 17, 2011 – Started Reading
February 20, 2011 –
page 41
9.49% "I have one problem with this book, I don't want to put it down. If my daughter would allow me to, I would spend the entire day reading on the couch."
February 20, 2011 –
page 72
February 24, 2011 –
page 138
February 25, 2011 –
page 1482
February 25, 2011 –
page 182
February 26, 2011 –
page 243
February 26, 2011 –
page 351
81.25% "Raining all night and I can't sleep. At least I'm getting some reading done."
February 26, 2011 – Finished Reading
August 21, 2011 – Shelved as: historic-fiction-1700s

Comments (showing 1-30 of 30) (30 new)

dateDown arrow    newest »

message 1: by Melanie (new) - added it

Melanie This one seems pretty interesting

Erin So far so good but I'm only about a chapter in

message 3: by Erin (new)

Erin Germain I have to say, it sounds interesting. I'll be looking forward to what you think after you've finished.

Kate. I cant wait for this one

Erin I really like this one. I've gotten lost in it twice now. :)

Kate. I love her books. Glad you are enjoying it :)

Andrea Zsigmond I just picked this one up and am looking forward to it. Glad to hear it was good.

message 8: by Misfit (new) - added it

Misfit Thanks for mentioning the quibbles, as well as the good points.

Erin Thanks for the feedback Misfit. I am nervous about posting my thoughts online. Nice to know I haven't messed it up too much.

message 10: by Misfit (new) - added it

Misfit Nah, leave the p*ssing off to me. I've done it enough :)

message 11: by Sandi *~The Pirate Wench~* (last edited Mar 02, 2011 04:19PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Sandi *~The Pirate Wench~* Great review Erin! At least I have a good idea of what Im to expect with this book, Thanks!

Erin Thanks Sandi!

Kate. Will be ordering this one next week.

Erin Enjoy!

message 15: by Jemidar (new)

Jemidar Hi Erin, I checked this out on your blog and, just a suggestion, you might want to rethink your choice of font for the sidebars as I had a lot of difficulty reading it. I know it's probably because I'm old and decrepit but I thought you might want to know.

Erin Thanks Jemidar! I'm open to all the feedback I can get. Thanks!

message 17: by Jemidar (new)

Jemidar Ooops, forgot to say before that other than that small quibble, it looks good :-).

Erin Thanks, I changed the font. Looks a bit cleaner now.

message 19: by Jemidar (new)

Jemidar Much better on the old eyes :-D.

message 20: by Deena (new) - added it

Deena I think for marketing purposes it was not titled Mademoiselle Grosholtz.

Erin Thank you Coprbrd

Audrey Hi, I am almost done reading this book and I completely agree with your review, which by the way is very well written. I am enjoying this book and like you am having a difficult time putting it down, but I also agree that I was hoping for more about when she was Madame Tussaud in London.

Erin Thank you Audrey. :)

The Just-About-Average Ms M Let me know if you still feel this way after you read The Second Empress, if you decide to read it,that is.

Unfortunately, I disagree with you that anyone interested in the French Revolution would enjoy this--well, readers with a casual, uninformed knowledge of the Revolution might...

message 25: by Erin (last edited Jan 18, 2015 09:08AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Erin The Divine Ms M wrote: "Unfortunately, I disagree with you that anyone interested in the French Revolution would enjoy this--well, readers with a casual, uninformed knowledge of the Revolution might... "

I can respect your opinion, but your comment carries a note of condescending superiority doesn't sit well with me.

That said, perhaps there is a Tussaud novel you can recommend? I've yet to discover one I like more than Moran's, but you seem better read in this era so maybe you can point me in the right direction.

message 26: by The Just-About-Average Ms M (last edited Jan 18, 2015 09:50AM) (new) - rated it 1 star

The Just-About-Average Ms M I'm sorry you thought I was being condescending --that was never my intention. My reading in this era is confined to that which I did in graduate school and in my subsequent academic career; I don't read much historical fiction set between 1789 and 1815 because it is usually much too glib, historically inaccurate, and full of anachronisms. And those are my criticisms of Moran's two books set during this period.

Because I don't know much specifically about the medieval era, for example, or the Italian Renaissance, I consider myself a casual and largely uninformed reader of HistFic set during those eras. Is that condescending, or simply an opinion?

And I have no clue about other books on Tussaud, good, bad, or average.

Erin Is there a nonfiction you might recommend? My background is really very limited. Hollywood and fiction is really I've got to go one. Maybe some half-remembered high school discussions while reading A Tale of Two Cities, but nothing that digs into the real issues.

The Just-About-Average Ms M Give me a day or two to jump-start my brain cells and I can recommend both fiction and non.

Erin Thank you! :)

message 30: by Olga (new)

Olga VERY LOVELY REVIEW. i'm wondering about your first sentence, do people not think MM s good writer? Because she's incredibly brilliant. Cleopatra's Daughter is unarguably one of the best contemporary historical fiction. She's so amazing. Ugh <3

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