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

Read in 2017

January: 1. London: the Novel, by Edward Rutherfurd 2. Notes from a Small Island, by Bill Bryson 3. A Very English Scandal, by John Preston 4. Imagined London, by Anna Quindlen 5. The Black Dahlia, by James Ellroy 6. In Cold Blood, by Truman Capote February 1. Sense and Sensibility, by Jane Austen 2. The Girls of Slender Means, by Muriel Spark 3. Patience, by John Coates 4. Into the Whirlwind, by Eugenia Ginzburg 5. The Turn of the Screw, by Henry James 6. Few Eggs and No Oranges, by Vere Hodgson 7. Vittoria Cottage, by DE Stevenson March: 1. The Exiles Return, by Elizabeth de Waal 2. Northanger Abbey, by Jane Austen 3. The Death of the Heart, by Elizabeth Bowen 4. The Buccaneers, by Edith Wharton 5. The Death of the Heart, by Elizabeth Bowen 6. White Teeth, by Zadie Smith April: 1. The Heat of the Day, by Elizabeth Bowen 2. The Two Mrs. Abbotts, by DE Stevenson 3. The Road to Little Dribbling, by Bill Bryson May: 1. London War Notes, by Mollie Panter-Dow

Review: Jane Austen's Letters, ed. by Deirdre Le Faye

Pages: 667 Original date of publication: 2011 My copy:   2011 (Oxford University Press) Why I decided to read: How I acquired my copy: Amazon.com, April 2013 This is a compilation of many of Jane Austen’s letters, most of them sent to her sister Cassandra between 1796 and 1817, the year of her death. Although many of Austen’s letters were destroyed by her sister in order to preserve the family reputation, the collection contains over 160 letters in which Austen gives her sister details about her life in Chawton—as well as giving us a tantalizing glimpse of what was going through her mind as she was writing her novels (especially the novel that was to become Pride and Prejudice , First Impressions ). There are other letters here, too, giving advice to her niece and professional correspondence to publishers—as well as a couple of letters that were written by Cassandra Austen after Jane’s death. To the sisters, the letters acted in the way that phone calls do today; A

Review: The Far Cry, by Emma Smith

Pages: 324 Original date of publication: 1949 My edition: 2007 (Persephone) Why I decided to read: It’s been on my TBR pile since I purchased it six months ago How I acquired my copy: from the Persephone shop, September 2009 The Far Cry was inspired by the author’s experiences in India. In 1945, at the age of 21, Emma Smith (who describes herself as “a green young woman” in her preface to this edition) traveled to India with a film production crew as a junior script writer/gopher. While she was there, Smith kept a journal of her experiences and thoughts to detail her “magical Cinderella-like transformation” into a worldlier person. In the preface of the novel, Emma Smith writes brilliantly about what kind of impact her travels to India had upon her, a first-time visitor. What she wrote in her journal went largely into the writing of this novel; and the stronger it is for it, I think, because this is an absolutely stunning book. When Mr. Digby’s ex wife returns from Amer