Reading Historical fiction is a wonderful way to make you appreciate the times in which you live! Especially when reading about the bloody French Revolution! Holy time of turmoil Batman! The betrayal! The Guillotine! The slaughter! Wow! Approximately 40 000 lives lost in a span of less than 5 years. No wonder The time was referred to as “The Reign of Terror”!
This was the story of Marie Grosholtz, who would eventually become the famous Madame Tussaud of wax museum fame. She was trained as a sculptress by her uncle/step father when she was only 17 years old. When I started this book last year (Goodreads cleverly allowed me to read the first 5 chapters for free to get me hooked) I had the impression that it would be the story of how she became famous as an artist. But when I picked it up again for the Random Reader Historical Fiction reading challenge I soon found out that it was more about Marie’s involvement during one of the most tumultuous times in history– The French Revolution.
I would say that this story was more about the Revolution itself with Marie as one of its main characters than it was about the art of creating the wax figures. It went deep into the detail of the political players who were in and out of the Salon de Cire– her first museum in Paris. Marie was an incredible business woman and had a knack for knowing the latest trends, always exhibiting the most fashionable figures of the day– from the King and Queen to the leaders of the Revolution. She easily blended into the worlds of both Royalist and Revolutionary and played both sides so well that she was beyond reproach until the very end. Her sculpting skills became so well known that when heads began to roll Marie was forced to spend more and more time in the Madeleine Cemetery making “Death Masks” of the rich and famous than arranging her own models in the Salon. Her refusal to produce a mask of Princesse Elizabeth, sister of the king, got her sent to the notorious Les Carmes prison where she barely escaped with her life.
So, this is anarchy. This life without order or laws, the way our ancestors lived it before without chieftains or kings. Paris has become a city of ghosts.
I did enjoy this book but had already read a couple of books about the French Revolution that contained much of the same information so I feel like I didn’t really learn anything new with this one. I will say that it was very well written, you could totally tell that the research was done and there were no fake characters (which I am not a fan of in Historical Fiction). I will definitely be looking into reading more from Michelle Moran. I have only read good reviews about her Egypt series and I can’t wait to give those a read– I hardly know anything at all about that time period.
3 stars (3.5 if you know nothing about the French Revolution– quite a lot of good history in here written in a way so that it is not boring!)
2 thoughts on “Review: Madame Tussaud”
WOAH! Is that pick of the wax heads legit?? Did she really make those? This book sounds absolutely intriguing!
Yes– pretty grosse eh?! She was ordered to make the Death masks for all of the famous beheaded French (according to the book) and displayed them on spikes in the “Chamber of Horrors” section of the Salon. I wish I would have read this one before the (not so good) Hidden Diary of Marie Antoinette that I read last year– lots of the same politics– but this one was way better written (and no fake characters).