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Madame Tussaud: A Novel of the French Revolution [Paperback]

Michelle Moran
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
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Book Description

Dec 27 2011
The world knows Madame Tussaud as a wax artist extraordinaire . . . but who was this woman who became one of the most famous sculptresses of all time? In these pages, her tumultuous and amazing story comes to life as only Michelle Moran can tell it. The year is 1788, and a revolution is about to begin.
 
Smart and ambitious, Marie Tussaud has learned the secrets of wax sculpting by working alongside her uncle in their celebrated wax museum, the Salon de Cire. From her popular model of the American ambassador, Thomas Jefferson, to her tableau of the royal family at dinner, Marie’s museum provides Parisians with the very latest news on fashion, gossip, and even politics. Her customers hail from every walk of life, yet her greatest dream is to attract the attention of Marie Antoinette and Louis XVI; their stamp of approval on her work could catapult her and her museum to the fame and riches she desires. After months of anticipation, Marie learns that the royal family is willing to come and see their likenesses. When they finally arrive, the king’s sister is so impressed that she requests Marie’s presence at Versailles as a royal tutor in wax sculpting. It is a request Marie knows she cannot refuse—even if it means time away
from her beloved Salon and her increasingly dear friend, Henri Charles.
 
As Marie gets to know her pupil, Princesse Élisabeth, she also becomes acquainted with the king and queen, who introduce her to the glamorous life at court. From lavish parties with more delicacies than she’s ever seen to rooms filled with candles lit only once before being discarded, Marie steps into a world entirely different from her home on the Boulevard du Temple, where people are selling their teeth in order to put food on the table.
 
Meanwhile, many resent the vast separation between rich and poor. In salons and cafés across Paris, people like Camille Desmoulins, Jean-Paul Marat, and Maximilien Robespierre are lashing out against the monarchy. Soon, there’s whispered talk of revolution. . . . Will Marie be able to hold on to both the love of her life and her friendship with the royal family as France approaches civil war? And more important, will she be able to fulfill the demands of powerful revolutionaries who ask that she make the death masks of beheaded aristocrats, some of whom she knows?
 
Spanning five years, from the budding revolution to the Reign of Terror, Madame Tussaud brings us into the world of an incredible heroine whose talent for wax modeling saved her life and preserved the faces of a vanished kingdom.


From the Hardcover edition.

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Review

"Certain to be a breakout book for Moran, this superbly written and plotted work is a welcome addition to historical fiction collections. The shocking actions and behavior required of Tussaud to survive the revolution make the novel a true page-turner and a perfect reading group choice."--Library Journal, starred review

"This is a first-class novel, brilliantly written, and Michelle Moran has authentically evoked an era, infusing her narrative with passages of gripping and often horrifying drama, set in one of history's most brutal periods. The scope of the author's research is staggering, but you won't need to get to the notes at the end to realize that. As historical novels go, this is of the first rank--a page-turner that is both vividly and elegantly written. I feel privileged to be able to endorse it."—Alison Weir, author of Eleanor of Aquitane

"Moran’s latest is an excellent and entertaining novel steeped in the zeitgeist of the period. Highly recommended."--Historical Novels Review, Editors' Choice

"This is an unusually moving portrayal of families in distress, both common and noble. Marie Antoinette in particular becomes a surprisingly dimensional figure rather than the fashionplate, spendthrift caricature depicted in the pamphlets of her times. A feat for Francophiles and adventurers alike."--Publishers Weekly

"Madame Tussaud...is brought to life in this well-crafted, fast-paced novel by the talented Michelle Moran...Michelle Moran has done what few novelists have been successfully able to accomplish, and that is to depict the full range of the swift political changes that occurred in the few years from the fall of the Bastille to the beheading of the king. Madame Tussaud promises to be a breakout book for this talented writer—a novel that is both a gripping fictionalized biography of an intriguing woman and a well-paced, illuminating chronicle of the French Revolution."--New York Journal of Books  

"Well-plotted...Mannered and elegant; reminiscent in many ways of novels of days long past."--Kirkus



From the Hardcover edition.

About the Author

MICHELLE MORAN was a public high school teacher for six years and is currently a full-time writer living in California. She is the author of the national bestseller Nefertiti, The Heretic Queen, and Cleopatra's Daughter.


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5.0 out of 5 stars See commentary for Second Empress Dec 3 2013
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Please read the commentary for Second Empress. Same author, just as engaging and captivating to read. I couldn't put it down.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Madame Tussaud Dec 28 2012
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This was one of the most amazing books I have ever read. Reading it was like watching an Oscar wining movie. I have leant this book out to several people and every single person has said they can put it down. It is an absolute must.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Highly Captivating April 13 2012
By Toni Osborne TOP 100 REVIEWER
Format:Paperback
''A Novel of the French Revolution''

''Madame Tussaud'' is set during a difficult and complicated time in French history when the population became more and more dissatisfied with the monarchy. While the subjects were hit with rising taxes and left starving and had little to call their own, the royals were spending foolishly and living high of the hog. The masses became so discouraged with the direction of the country, they reached a point where they did not trust or support anything King Louis XV1 and Queen Marie Antoinette did. This was a very volatile and dangerous time; France was on a downhill spiral and the ensuing events left its mark on history for ever.

The story is mainly of Marie Grosholtz, a talented artist who worked at her family wax museum sculpting figures that reflected events of the time: Paris late 1780's. This was a very trying time for their profession and their Salon de Cire, in order to make a living and protect the family they had to walk a very fine line between two distinctive groups with opposing agendas. One group was the royalty with an endless supply of money and the other was represented by Robespierre and Marat, the two notorious revolutionary instigators whose propaganda speeches eventually bring the population to rise against the monarchy.

It didn't take long for the situation to get out of hands. The ruling class retaliated by implementing the guillotine and went from town to town massacring all those in their way but eventually the people with their numbers overran the Bastille'. During this period, Marie was mandated to prepare the death masks of prominent people who were recently beheaded but soon became unable to do this gruesome task, there was no apparent end in sight.
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