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

Madame Tussaud by Michelle Moran
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's review
Jan 07, 2011

it was amazing
bookshelves: historical-fiction, kindle, read-in-2011

During the French Revolution, people found out news of what was going on through newspapers, personal letters, and word of mouth, but Marie Grosholtz and her family's salon did more than just report the news, they showed it. Using life-like wax figurines, Marie and her uncle, Curtius, depicted scenes of the royal family at dinner, Marie Antoinette choosing outfits with her dressmaker, and the notorious criminals of the day languishing in prison. Marie used her connection as the king's sister's tutor to stay on top of the news and discover new faces to model. As the Revolution progressed, Marie and Curtius were savvy enough to remove all traces of the royal family from their salon and replaced them with the up and coming stars, such as, Lafayette, Robspierre, and Danton. Not only did Marie create these scenes for their salon, she was also expected to make death masks of "traitors." All of this was not enough to save her from suspicion, however, and when she refused to create a death mask for one of her friends, she was thrown in prison and awaited death by guillotine.

Let me start by saying, this is not a happy book. There were happy moments that made me smile, but most of the time I was shaking my head in pity for these people and their misguided efforts. I have read several books about the French Revolution and Marie Antoinette, but for me, this one stands above the rest. Michelle Moran has written a novel that, while filled with atrocities, was incredibly moving and truly brought this period of history to life. I would read for hours at a time and get so caught up in the story, I forgot where I was. The characters were so realistic and I became attached to many of them. I even found myself hoping, even though I knew how it would unfold, "Maybe they won't die this time." To me, that is the sign of a great read; one where you forget that you've heard the story a thousand times because you are so caught up in the version at hand. I only wish that it had lasted longer and I had not devoured it so quickly.

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