Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Throwback Review: Madame Tussaud

Throwback review from April 2012!

Madame Tussaud: A Novel of the French Revolution is an adult historical fiction title by Michelle Moran.

Marie Tussaud has learned the art of wax sculpting from her uncle, whom she works alongside at the Salon de Cire, their wax museum. She has an impeccable eye for it, and their patrons often are amazed at how lifelike their models of popular heroes from the American Revolution like Thomas Jefferson are. Many also come to see the royal family in different moments of their luxe lives.

Yet, the Salon is also a place of gossip and news – so Marie soon begins to realize just how much people’s opinions of the royal family are changing. She knew already, of course, that there are many starving and having much financial difficulty – mostly due to famine and a heavy tax burden the lower classes must bear for the higher ones – but in December of 1788 she is starting to see the anger…

Still determined to keep the Salon open and active, creating new sculptures that reflect the days, news and desires, Marie is given a front view seat of the budding French Revolution all the way through the Reign of Terror.

Her skills may be her survival among the chaos – but how many others will perish?

Madame Tussaud spans five years and covers a ton of historical ground. Michelle Moran effortlessly weaves in numerous notable names like Robespierre, Lafayette, the Marquis de Sade (*shudder*), and the royal family. She manages to bring them all through the novel in an elegant, believable manner – mixing history and fact impeccably with a story that feels real and alive. Excellent!

I’ve always been fascinated by the French Revolution, Marie Antoinette, etc. It’s such a terrifying piece of history, full of so much tragedy and madness. Michelle Moran gave us a unique perspective from Madame Tussaud’s point of view. I was truly floored.

First we have a prologue that is full of unspoken memories and a haunted past during one of history’s darkest periods. I was intrigued immediately. We are given an upfront look at the makings of a vengeful, violent revolution while following an ambitious, business-focused career woman in the successful Marie Tussaud.

Madame Tussaud is a riveting novel of the heartbreaking, horrifying fall of a monarchy from an achingly personal view, felt on a personal level. It’s suspenseful and frightening as tyranny rules, utterly disturbing, bloody, and chilling with few (but momentous) moments of hope, happiness, and love for Marie.

What we have here is a magnificent page turner that is, yes, oftentimes so nightmarish and horrifying it turns the stomach, with few happy endings. See, you feel like you are living it with Marie - which is not exactly fun, but truly absorbing and utterly memorable. Incredibly written. It highlights the ridiculousness, madness and danger of mob-rule and leaves you speechless.

As someone who usually reads YA, I do sometimes venture out – especially for historical fiction. I must say that I think readers of YA need to pick up Madame Tussaud. Though it is disquieting and sometimes graphic with the violence, so are many YA novels. This, however, also gives you history and an insanely good read – both of which any bibliophile can agree is an excellent combination.

No matter what you’re regular genre of choice is, Madame Tussaud is phenomenal, stunning, and absolutely unforgettable.

I will be more than ready to read Michelle Moran’s next novel, The Second Empress: A Novel of Napoleon’s Court, when it comes out!!!

In fact – I wish it was available right now! If she writes all her books with such passion, detail, and complete attention-grabbing anxiety, I want to read everything she’s written! How about you?

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