Title: Madame Tussaud
Author: Michelle Moran
Publishers: February 15th 2011 by Crown Publishing Group
ISBN: 0307588653 (ISBN13: 9780307588654)
Quick Review: 4 stars (out of 5)
Why did I read it: I won this book on Goodreads.
Where was book Obtained: It was sent by the publisher.
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? Her head was shaven for guillotining, but she escaped execution, though she was forced to make death masks for prominent victims. Novelist Michelle Moran covers this breathtaking period without losing the thread of its subject's singular story.
Review: History, murder, friendships sold for nothing, love, death, wax, the guillotine, high fashion, corruption, deceit, despair, loss and more. This book has it. The story constructed around the history of the French Revolution kept me reading late into the night. I wanted to know what happened to Marie and to her family. Would she lose Henri forever? Would the salon be lost and with it all her work? Would she be captured and tried as a Royalist? Marie and her family played both sides to survive, she assisted the Kings family and she made the wax death masks for the Revolutionists. Her mother called them Survivalists, but Marie worried that by tutoring a royal and being friends with the other side, her family would suffer. Fear for her life and the lives of those she loved kept her working, but would she be able to keep playing both sides undetected? Would they capture her and her family, and if they did what would happen to them?
The characters in this book keep you tied to the story, will they live, will they die. You really care about each one and worry for them. Marie is a strong independent woman who wants to be known for her art, but she finds that there is more to life then fame and fortune. Love is found and lost in a moment of indecision where death is around every corner. Her wax museum kept up with the news and produced scenes for the people to see of the weekly happenings (early TV news). Writers wrote and spoke the news filling the French with their sensationalistic words and lies. Truth didn't sell newspapers or make a writer famous, but the better the lies the more they sold. Isn't that the way it is with life now?
If you love historical/fiction you will enjoy this book. This book is well written and fast to read. I now wish we hadn't skipped Madame Tussaud's Wax Museum when we were in London.
Author Biography: Michelle Moran was born in the San Fernando Valley, CA. She took an interest in writing from an early age, purchasing Writer's Market and submitting her stories and novellas to publishers from the time she was twelve. When she was accepted into Pomona College she took as many classes as possible in British Literature, particularly Milton, Chaucer, and the Bard. Not surprisingly, she majored in English while she was there. Following a summer in Israel where she worked as a volunteer archaeologist, she earned an MA from the Claremont Graduate University.
Michelle has traveled around the world, from Zimbabwe to India, and her experiences at archaeological sites were what inspired her to write historical fiction. A public high school teacher for six years, Michelle Moran is currently a full-time writer living in California with her husband.