What's the story?:
Madame Tussaud's name is now synonymous with the famous wax museums located around the world. The real Madame Marie Tussaud lived during the French Revolution, a truly tumultuous time. She started out making wax figures and busts of the famous people of the day. She befriends many of the well to do in Paris, including the royal family. When talk of revolution comes to France, she is in a prime position to walk the tightrope between the Monarchists and the so-called Third Estate. She keeps her family safe and fed by continuing to make wax figures for the people who are in favor at the time. When revolution hits Paris, she is forced to participate by making figures of the dead even though her own life is very much in danger.
My two cents:
Frankly, I didn't know that there was really a Madame Tussaud! I've been to the museum in NYC but kind of thought that the name was made up. This book is truly a book about survival and doing what one needs to do in order to ensure that survival. Madame Tussaud is a very strong female character especially for the time period when it was quite uncommon for women to have a career. Although the salon where Madame Tussaud shows her wax figures is owned by her uncle, she still truly makes a career out of it even thought it's not a social norm for the time.
Another interesting part of the story is how Madame Tussaud is able to move between the lower and upper class in such a stratified society. She becomes great friends with the King's sister through showing her the art of making wax figures. However, she is still friends with many of the revolutionaries that are trying to bring the monarchy down and often resort to gross lies in order to defame the monarchy. Marie understands the need of being on the "right side of history" as well as how difficult self-preservation can be to obtain.
She is a very full and well-written character. This is the first one of Michelle Moran's books that I have read but I will definitely be reading the others of her books (which are all set in Ancient Egypt, as an aside) and I really liked her style of writing. It kept me on the edge of my seat and wanting to read what happened next.
4.5 out of 5 stars
Have you read this book?