Madame Tussaud

Madame Tussaud : A Novel of the French Revolution

3.95 (17,783 ratings by Goodreads)
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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 elisabeth, 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 cafes 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.
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Product details

  • Hardback | 448 pages
  • 167.64 x 236.22 x 43.18mm | 793.78g
  • Random House Inc
  • New York, United States
  • English
  • black & white illustrations, maps
  • 0307588653
  • 9780307588654
  • 612,965

Review quote

"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 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"
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About Michelle Moran

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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Rating details

17,783 ratings
3.95 out of 5 stars
5 31% (5,502)
4 41% (7,345)
3 21% (3,777)
2 5% (866)
1 2% (293)

Our customer reviews

This review first appeared on my blog: I have a soft spot in my heart for historical fiction, mainly because interwoven into the fiction, I usually end up learning something about the very real characters that lived during the period. Such is the case with Michelle Moran's Madame Tussaud. Inserted at the front of the novel is a time line of the French Revolution, as well as a comprehensive list of the characters in the novel. All of the characters in the novel are based on a person who actually lived during the Revolution, and all of the major events described actually took place. As we read about the extraordinary life of Marie Grosholtz (later known as Madame Tussaud), we get to sit in on the salons of Philipe Curtius, Marie's "uncle", with the likes of the Duc D'Orleans, Maximilien Robespierre, and Jean-Paul Marat, who will all be prominent in the French Revolution. While Philipe and Marie aren't revolutionaries themselves, they straddle the line between. Marie is commissioned to teach the King's youngest sister, Madame Elisabeth (who would have been better suited to a nunnery, but for her brother's need for her to be readily accessible to him) wax figure making, and Marie travels between the shop and Versailles, where she learns that the monarchy is shielded and not informed of the people's sentiments and suffering, while outside of the palace, talk of revolution is fomenting. As you travel with Marie, you will meet Rose Bertin (Marie Antoinette's dressmaker), visit the Marquis de Sade in his prison cell and get a look at his 'masterpiece', "A Hundred and Twenty Days of Sodom". When the new National Guard is formed, Curtius is drafted as a captain in the people's army, and as Marat reviles various people as traitors to the cause, Marie is forced to cast death masks or face death herself. You will live with her through the fall of the monarchy and the lies and misinformation that fanned the Revolution .. the rumors, innuendos, killings, treachery and true horrors of the time, eventually joining her in her prison cell. This is a truly fascinating and at times heartbreaking look at a life that was spared for greatness by luck and chance. QUOTES (from an ARC; may be different in final copy): Perhaps I should be happy. But I see the misery of Madame Elisabeth when I visit her, and I hear of the way the people treat the queen, and I have to think it cannot be this way in England. Not even King George III, who is said to be mad and ruled by his son, is slandered in the streets and spit on in his gardens. At Easter, when the royal family was forbidden to leave the Tuileries for their annual visit to Saint-Cloud, the king realized he should have listened to the queen and escaped. "All this time," she laments, "when everyone with sense was telling him to flee, he wanted to believe in the good of the people." It is the prerogative of the Revolutionary Tribunal to decide on the order of deaths, and the prisoner they wish to punish most always goes last. Men must watch their wives and children die. Particularly hated traitors are forced to wait until the razor has lost its edge after so much work. Writing: 4.5 out of 5 stars Plot: 5 out of 5 stars Characters: 4 out of 5 stars Reading Immersion: 4 out 5 stars BOOK RATING: 4.375 out of 5 starsshow more
by Julie Smith
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