Title: Madame Tussaud
Author: Michelle Moran
Genre: Historical Fiction
About: (Goodreads synopsis) In this deft historical novel, Madame Tussaud (1761-1850) escapes the pages of trivia quizzes to become a real person far more arresting than even her waxwork sculptures. Who among us knew, for instance, that she moved freely through the royal court of Louis XVI, only to become a prisoner of the Reign of Terror?
My thoughts: Michelle Moran brings to life a familiar character while examining her place in history. I learned things I’d either forgotten or never knew about the French Revolution. Madame Tussaud and her family chronicled with wax models the royals and political figures of France in the time leading up to the revolution and beyond. It was not unusual for Robespierre and other revolutionaries to sit at their table for dinner and discussion. They also hosted private showings for the Royal family and other dignitaries. The common people of Paris who could afford the fee relied on the gallery to depict recent events and to always be of the moment. Because of her dedication to her profession Madame Tussaud had very little private time. She even tutored the sister of the King in wax modeling. As the Revolution turned into a bloodbath Marie was called upon to make death masks of beheaded Royals and royalists. She complied until the day she refused to make the mask of a friend. That sealed her fate as well as her mother’s. The story doesn’t end there but I don’t want to spoil it for other readers.
Michelle Moran’s gift for storytelling and detailed descriptions put me in the opulent halls at Versailles, the workroom at the Salon de Cire (the gallery), and in the middle of the crowd watching the executions-by-guillotine in the Place de la Révolution.
After reading Madame Tussaud I have a better understanding of this turbulent time in French history as well as an appreciation of one remarkable woman who is now much more than a trivia answer.
Recommend? Yes, if you like historical fiction I think you’ll like Madame Tussaud – it was a page-turner!
Source: Michelle Moran