Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Madame Tussaud by Michelle Moran

Marie Grosholtz is a Parisian Businesswoman who is married to her job. She is a wax sculptor with her "uncle" Curtius. With the help of her mother, they run the successful Salon de Cire, and have lively political debates in their weekly get together with such notables as Jean-Paul Marat, Camille Desmoulins, Duke of OrlĂ©ans and other revolutionaries. But Marie's family has other ties as well. After the Royal Family visits the Salon, Marie accepts an invitation to teach wax sculpting to Madame Elizabeth, the King's sister. Marie is dazzled and dismayed at the elegance and opulence of the French Court. While at court, she learns to love not only Madame Elizabeth, but the other members of the French Royal Family.When Louis assembles the Estates General, many have hope. But these hopes are dashed when the Estates General is replaced with the National Assembly. The uneasy peace that has engulfed Paris is shattered when Bastile is stormed. The mob brings Marie and her family the severed head of Bastile's governor. Maire is forced to make a likeness of the man. Marie's uncle is soon asked to serve the revolutionary forces, placing her families loyalties on the fence. After two of Marie's brothers are massacred by a mob while trying to protect the Royal Family, Marie's lover flees to England. Despite his pleas, Marie refuses to leave her family and her business. After his departure, Paris sinks further into chaos and destruction. Marie's uncle is stationed on the front of the war with Austria and Marie is forced to make nightly trips to the graveyard to sculpt the victims of the guillotine. These victims include the King, Queen and Madame Elizabeth.  When the victims of the guillotine become more personal, Marie refuses to continue her macabre trade. This decision results in her imprisonment and impending execution. While imprisoned, she meets her future husband and the future Empress Josephine.

I went into this book with a bias. I love Michelle Moran's writing. She is one of my favorite authors. I had great expectations for this book and I wasn't disappointed.Michelle Moran delivers with a beautifully written book that manages to be descriptive, but not overly cluttered with details. I knew the story of Madame Tussaud, but her journey was wonderful when written by Moran. I also knew that the French Revolution was a bloody mess, I was not fully aware of how the Revolution touched the lives of all of Paris. Everyone was touched by this bloody disaster. It amazed me the most that the leaders and dreamers who started the Revolution were destroyed by their creation in the end.


  1. I loved it as well! It was just amazing. I knew how it would end, but it still surprised me. Odd, no?