Skip to main content

Review: Madame Tussaud, by Michelle Moran


Pages: 446

Original date of publication: 2010

My edition: 2010 (Crown)

Why I decided to read: I was offered a copy for review

How I acquired my copy: review copy from the author, February 2011

Michelle Moran has been known for her novels set in the ancient world—Egypt and Rome. Madame Tussaud is a departure for her, delving as it does into the world of late-18th century France and the Revolution. Madame Tussaud, nee Marie Grosholtz, made a name for herself as an artist, making wax models of famous contemporaries—becoming involved, as she does so, with some of the major political and cultural figures of her day. It was an era in which everything changed almost overnight (right down to the clothes that people wore), and Madame Tussaud was right there to see it all happen. You almost fell, while reading this book, that you’re there yourself.

This is an absolutely stunning novel that had me captivated from beginning to end. Marie wasn’t exactly a beauty, and she wasn’t wealthy or of the nobility. But her perception of the events going on is astute. Michelle Moran describes the almost hysterical mood of the Revolution and Reign of Terror to perfection, keeping me on the edge of my seat. At first, I was a little bit unsure of how the present-tense narration would work; but I ignored it after a few pages and just let myself enjoy the story and characters.

Due to her work in wax, Marie was able to meet some of the major players of her day; she was even a tutor to the king’s sister. Marie straddled to worlds: she wasn’t of the nobility, but she became semi-familiar to the royal family. On the other hand, her family’s Salon became a gathering place for major revolutionary figures of the day. It was interesting to see where Marie’s loyalties lay—and to watch the romance grow between herself and Henri. Marie in the novel isn’t depicted as having a modern mindset, but she deals with a dilemma that still plagues women today: work versus personal happiness in love. I still wonder why she made the decision to marry Francoise Tussaud—an error in judgment, as it turns out. This is a novel definitely worth the read.

Comments

Kristen said…
I purchased this book a few weeks ago, thinking it sounded like a great read. I haven't read it yet but your review is making me want to drop what I am reading now and start on this one!
I just purchased my first Michelle Moran book and can't wait to get started on it! Thanks for the review.
Teddy Rose said…
I have it in my arc pile. I have a couple books I have to read first before I get to devour Michelle Moran Literature. I can hardly wait. It is even more exciting to me because I am going to New Your in May for the BEA and plan to visit the Madame Tussuad Wax Museum.
Swapna said…
So glad you enjoyed this one, I did as well. Great review.

Popular posts from this blog

2015 Reading

January
1. The Vanishing Witch, by Karen Maitland
2. Pride and Prejudice, by Jane Austen
3. Texts From Jane Eyre, by Mallory Ortberg
4. Brighton Rock, by Graham Green
5. Brat Farrar, by Josephine Tey
6. Eat, Pray, Love, by Elizabeth Gilbert
7. Anna Karenina, by Leo Tolstoy
8. A Movable Feast, by Ernest Hemingway
9. A Room of One's Own, by Virginia Woolf
10. Other Voices, Other Rooms, by Truman Capote
11. Maggie-Now, by Betty Smith

February
1. Middlemarch, by George Eliot
2. To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee
3. Nerdy, Shy, and Socially Inappropriate, by Cynthia Lee
4. Music For Chameleons, by Truman Capote
5. Peyton Place, by Grace Metalious
6. Unrequited, by Lisa Phillips
7. Brideshead Revisited, by Evelyn Waugh
8. A Lost Lady, by Willa Cather

March
1. Persuasion, by Jane Austen
2. Love With a Chance of Drowning, by Torre DeRoche
3. One Hundred Years of Solitude, by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
4. Miss Buncle's Book, by DE Stevenson
5. One Hundred Years of Solitude, by Gabriel Garc…

2016 Reading

January:
1. The Jungle, by Upton Sinclair
2. The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, by L. Frank Baum
3. The Awakening, by Kate Chopin
4. Liar: A Memoir, by Rob Roberge

February:
1. The Forsyte Saga, by John Galsworthy
2. Girl in the Woods, by Aspen Matis
3. She Left Me the Gun, by Emma Brockes
4. Because of the Lockwoods, by Dorothy Whipple
5. The Chronology of Water, by Lidia Yuknavitch
6. To Show and to Tell, by Philip Lopate

March:
1. Fierce Attachments, by Vivian Gornick
2. Too Brief a Treat, by Truman Capote
3. On the Move: a Life, by Oliver Sacks
4. The Go-Between, by LP Hartley
5. The Art of Memoir, by Mary Karr
6. Giving Up the Ghost, by Hilary Mantel
7. I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, by Maya Angelou
8. The Great American Bus Ride, by Irma Kurtz
9. An Unquiet Mind, by Kay Radfield Jamison
10. A Widow's Story, by Joyce Carol Oates
11. So Sad Today, by Melissa Broder
12. The Liar's Club, by Mary Karr
13. An American Childhood, by Annie Dillard
14. So Sad Today, by Melissa Broder

Review: Forever Amber, by Kathleen Winsor

Pages: 972Originally published: 1944My edition: 2000 (Chicago Review Press)How I acquired my copy: Amazon.com, 2004

Forever Amber takes place in the 1660s, immediately follwing Charles II's ("the Merry Monarch") return of the Stuarts to the English throne. The book features Amber St. Claire, a young woman who starts out as a sixteen-year-old country girl, naieve to the workings of the world. She immediately meets Bruce Carlton, a dashing young Cavalier, with whom she has a passionate love affair in choppy intervals throughout the book. They have two children together, but Bruce won't marry her for the reason he tells his friend Lord Almsbury: that Amber just isn't the kind of woman one marries.

Upon following Bruce to London, he goes to Virginia, leaving her to fend for herself. What follows is a series of affairs and four marriages, with Bruce coming back from America now and then. Amber's marriages are imprudent: her first husband is a gambler, her second is…