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Madame Tussaud: A Novel of the French Revolution

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Most Helpful Favorable Review

7 out of 8 people found this review helpful.

Enthralled until the End!

Michelle Moran's historical novel does not disappoint in bringing the history of the French Revolution to your imagination. She did a splendid job doing research to show us the wonders of the 18th century France with all of its beauty which is twisted into a blood thir...
Michelle Moran's historical novel does not disappoint in bringing the history of the French Revolution to your imagination. She did a splendid job doing research to show us the wonders of the 18th century France with all of its beauty which is twisted into a blood thirsty era without making the political aspect too stuffy.
Madame Tussaud should bring images of impressible wonders of actors, diplomats, & newly beloved singers. Madame Tussaud's may have been a talented artist, however, her life was much more then a wax exhibit.

Dead Bodies from the French Revolution
We walk the streets of Boulevard du Temple through the eyes of Madame Marie Grosholtz (maiden name). She is a successful independent woman who helps her uncle, Philippe Curtis, run the Salon de Cire. Madame Grosholtz not only was graced by meeting the royal Family, King Louis the XVI and Marie Antoinette, when they came to visit the Salon de Cire, but she was also requested to be the wax tutor of King Louis's sister, Madame Elizabeth.

As events unfold it is revealed that weekly visitors of the Salon, friends of Curtis, in the after hours became major figures of the Anarchy, which was soon known as the Reign of Terror. This is hardly an understatement. Mobs killed many innocent, including women & children, commoners & nobles alike. Soon quick justice came the guillotine was introduced.


e-Book Love!
During this turbulent time Madame Grosholtz walks a fine line treading that of the royal aristocratic old ways and that of which this revolution is supposed to store to the common people of France. The mob holds power over her. If she denies their request she will be sent to prison or worse, find her head tumbling around after the guillotine slices through the creamy flesh of her neck. Yet, Madame Elizabeth has found a spot in Madame Grosholtz heart where she hopes that she will have mercy on her and her family if Austria armies comes to aid King Louis.

Henri Charles was a beautiful addition to the book. His tender relationship and non too subtle hints directed towards Madame Grosholtz had me giggle and blush for the poor woman myself. She was so driven in financial and business gain that she did not see how much this man adored her before it was announced. Dear Henri was also a man who had a solid head on his shoulders and broke up the comprehensive political battle nestled in the pages.

Overall, Madame Tussaud was a story that had me enthralled until the end. This book was extremely well written and researched!

posted by MadSteampunkery on April 3, 2011

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Most Helpful Critical Review

2 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

Book Review: Madame Tussaud

Having been a big fan of Moran's previous novels, I was curious as to what she could offer The French Revolution. I've only read a couple books with this setting, and never from such an lesser known view point. All I know of Madame Tussaud is from the present day wax mu...
Having been a big fan of Moran's previous novels, I was curious as to what she could offer The French Revolution. I've only read a couple books with this setting, and never from such an lesser known view point. All I know of Madame Tussaud is from the present day wax museum's names after her.

Sadly, I didn't think this was as fantastic as her other novels. But, I don't think it has anything to do with the story. Moran has crafted a masterpiece. She tells the story flawlessly to the point I felt like I was there. It just wasn't for me. I think it's the setting of the revolution. I just can't wrap my mind around what happened during this time period. The poor turning on the rich and on the church was understandable. All the had to do was follow the trail of money and food that they didn't have. But, it reminds me of the Salem witch trials in the aspect that all your neighbor had to do was point a finger at you and you were on trial. It was horrific. Especially when you think that an estimated 40,000 people died during this time period. And for what? I'm pretty sure it wasn't life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness (no matter how much the original leaders were trying to model the American Revolution).

I enjoyed the story of Marie. She was a very talented young women living a time of absolute turmoil. Her family has the ear of both the nobility and the National Assembly. And what a dangerous line to walk. I actually fond her point of view on the King and Queen to be fascinating. I've long felt I needed that voice to make them come to life. Once the force had started, I don't think anything could have saved them. The Queen especially couldn't do anything right by anyone's standards. I often saw Marie struggle with correcting people's very erroneous view points. But, she also didn't want to point out how friendly she was with the royal family.

After so much death surrounding her, I wasn't surprised that Marie was finally arrested. There's only so many times you can see someone's head and be asked to make a death mask of it. Especially when it's someone you know and would consider a friend. Even more so, when you realize how they died and for what reasons. In that aspect, I felt this novel was much more graphic that previous novels I've read about the revolution.

In the end, I felt the novel was a little drawn out and slow. Especially in the beginning. When the revolution was in full swing, it was just a lot of death and despair. But, Moran makes it readable. I'll be curious to see what I think of her next book which is also set in France during Napoleon's time.

posted by pagese on June 27, 2011

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  • Posted April 3, 2011

    Enthralled until the End!

    Michelle Moran's historical novel does not disappoint in bringing the history of the French Revolution to your imagination. She did a splendid job doing research to show us the wonders of the 18th century France with all of its beauty which is twisted into a blood thirsty era without making the political aspect too stuffy.
    Madame Tussaud should bring images of impressible wonders of actors, diplomats, & newly beloved singers. Madame Tussaud's may have been a talented artist, however, her life was much more then a wax exhibit.

    Dead Bodies from the French Revolution
    We walk the streets of Boulevard du Temple through the eyes of Madame Marie Grosholtz (maiden name). She is a successful independent woman who helps her uncle, Philippe Curtis, run the Salon de Cire. Madame Grosholtz not only was graced by meeting the royal Family, King Louis the XVI and Marie Antoinette, when they came to visit the Salon de Cire, but she was also requested to be the wax tutor of King Louis's sister, Madame Elizabeth.

    As events unfold it is revealed that weekly visitors of the Salon, friends of Curtis, in the after hours became major figures of the Anarchy, which was soon known as the Reign of Terror. This is hardly an understatement. Mobs killed many innocent, including women & children, commoners & nobles alike. Soon quick justice came the guillotine was introduced.


    e-Book Love!
    During this turbulent time Madame Grosholtz walks a fine line treading that of the royal aristocratic old ways and that of which this revolution is supposed to store to the common people of France. The mob holds power over her. If she denies their request she will be sent to prison or worse, find her head tumbling around after the guillotine slices through the creamy flesh of her neck. Yet, Madame Elizabeth has found a spot in Madame Grosholtz heart where she hopes that she will have mercy on her and her family if Austria armies comes to aid King Louis.

    Henri Charles was a beautiful addition to the book. His tender relationship and non too subtle hints directed towards Madame Grosholtz had me giggle and blush for the poor woman myself. She was so driven in financial and business gain that she did not see how much this man adored her before it was announced. Dear Henri was also a man who had a solid head on his shoulders and broke up the comprehensive political battle nestled in the pages.

    Overall, Madame Tussaud was a story that had me enthralled until the end. This book was extremely well written and researched!

    7 out of 8 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted August 14, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    Get it now!

    This story covers the life of Madame Tussaud through the turbulent years of the French Revolution. We find Madame Tussaud living on the Boulevard du Temple with her mother and "uncle" Curtius (he is really her mother's lover, and like a father to Marie, but as her mother is not capable of legally marrying Curtius, they live together without the benefit of marriage). Curtius is a respected wax sculptor and has taught Marie everything she knows about the craft and business, and they have grabbed the attention of the king and queen, who visit the "salon" (as they call the wax museum) , bringing great excitement to the area and lots of attention and business to the salon in the days following the royal's visit. Marie's three brothers are all members of the Swiss Guard, and sworn to protect the king. Due to line of work that Marie and Curtius are in, the family has varied associations and their home is often host to gatherings of key political figures like Robespierre, Lafayette, Duc d'Orleans (cousin of King Louis XVI), and Marat. Madame Tussaud lives next door to Henri and Jacques Charles, brothers who are scientists and use their home to perform experiments. Henri and Jacques are good friends of the family, but Henri eventually makes it clear to Marie that he is in love with her. His courtship of her and his patience with her while she delays their romance is sweet and touching. The story takes you through the French Revolution, from the grumblings of discontent to the violent clashes and the following "inquisition" reminiscent of the Salem witch trials. Friends turn on friends, neighbors on neighbors. Robespierre releases lists of "enemies" of the revolution, most of which initially are royals. People who make it on the list are targeted for arrest and often execution by guillotine, or are attacked and executed by mobs of supporters of the revolution. Later on, those that make it on the "list" are most often commoners, and in fact during the "Reign of Terror" (as it was called), the commoners suffered worse than anyone. I found it really bizarre, and was totally surprised to learn, that the revolutionaries even adopted new calendars, new methods for counting years, new fashions and holidays, and even banned religion altogether, and began imprisoning people for something as minor as failing to wear a cockade to identify them as a "Citizen" (people who supported the revolution). This was liberty? As Michelle states in her "Historical Note" at the end of the book: "In their fanaticism to spread liberty and equality, the revolutionaries created a tyranny." I do not seek out the historical fiction genre. I often find it a little bland for my tastes. However, this being my second Michelle Moran historical fiction book, I have found the author does such a great job of bringing characters to life and recreating the times and events surrounding their lives. Each time I finish one of her books, I'm left hungering for another! Engaging characters, disturbing images, shocking events. Love, family, loss. This book has it all. If you love historical fiction (and, heck, even if you don't!), pick this one up right away!

    3 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 30, 2011

    A must read!

    Wow! This book is now on my top 5 list of all my reads. Very well written. The scene description and character description fully set things. The author gave an awful period in time a very personal feeling. Any fan of historical fiction must read.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted August 11, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    Fast-Paced Story That Makes History Come to Life

    Type: {Impress Your Friends Read: notable; prize-winner or all around intelligent crowd conversation piece.}
    Rating: {An Unputdownable: Couldn't eat or sleep until I finished this book.}

    Why You're Reading It:
    - You love historical fiction that is more historical than fiction
    - Well-written informative books are your thing
    - You like a good page-turner that brings something more to the table than just entertainment

    What I Thought:

    While I love Phillipa Greggory, she writes historical fiction for fiction lovers. Madame Tussaud is a historical fiction book for history lovers. What I mean by this is that the amount of research that went into this book was so meticulous that the author even wrote an afterward admitting to the parts that she embellished, which were few (and mostly minimal in significance) for a book of this length. Michelle Moran has written a deft mix of historical accuracy and engaging fiction.

    By concentrating on Marie Grisholtz (Madame Tussaud), Moran has given us a personal view of the French Revolution. A revolution that, as an American, I knew only the basic overview that we are taught in school. For the second half of the book, my mouth was hanging open as I swiftly turned pages soaking up the information about what happened in France in the late 18th century. Completely drawn into the story, I had to remind myself that I already knew what the ultimate outcome was. However, the outcome that I knew (King XVI and Marie Antoinette die. sorry if that was news to you - if it was I recommend you go back and have a series chat with the schools that educated you) was so very limited in its information that I almost embarrassed now. Perhaps as a child I wouldn't have understood the significance of this revolution, but as an adult I am amazed that this movement is not taught in more depth in American schools (I am singling out America only because I am not privy to the education system in other countries as I am with my own).

    This is a book that anyone who is interested in monarchies, politics (including modern politics), and democracy. as well as what can happen when a country has a weak leader. I assure you, it can be disastrous - and if the revolution were to happen today, it would have been even more so (look at the turmoil in Northern Africa over the past several months if you don't believe me). And how the very people who are trying to make changes can turn into the very thing that they hate the most.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 1, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    Read it!

    Michelle Moran has written another stunning novel about an important, yet historically overlooked woman. Her lush descriptions allow the reader to glimpse and feel the atmosphere of France during the French Revolution. Loved it!

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 8, 2011

    Exemplary Writing!

    Michelle Moran is one of the most enthralling and fascinating authors I have ever read! I was never into the Revolution in France but the way she brought it to life, made me want to learn more about it. Madame Tussaud is one of the bravest and most fascinating woman I've ever read about. I highly recommend this book if you like point of view historical novels.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 8, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    New location, new Michelle Moran

    Marie Grosholtz "niece" of famous wax worker Philippe Curtis. "Uncle" Curtis got his big start in Paris by doing a model for King Louis XV of his favorite concubine Madame Du Barry and just in case you are wondering Du Berry is still on exhibit today in London. Philippe Curtis ran what we would today call a museum of wax models. What made them so famous was not the person who made them but who they were modeled after. Marie and Curtis worked hard in the exhibits and shared the same talent for making extremely realistic figures of people in wax. Their exhibit would become famous for modeling famous French aristocrats like the Queen Marie Antoinette, the "most beautiful woman in France" Emilie Sainte-Amaranthe, and the most vile, creepy man who the term sadist is derived from the villainous Marquis de Sade. With figures of people who have what we can only now amount to as celebrity status filling her museum it is no wonder that even in hard times people still lined up in droves to see the exhibits.

    Prior to the revolution the Queen Marie Antoinette visited the salon and gave her approval of her likeness that Marie had previously created from looking at paintings at the palace. It was during this visit that Marie met the king's sister devout Princess Elisabeth. Marie and Elisabeth became quick friends and the princess inquired into Marie coming to the palace to give her art lessons. Princess Elisabeth wanted to expand her art horizons and focus on anything besides the current turmoil France was in and wax working was the perfect way to escape. Since the crowds at Marie's salon never really dwindled down it is only natural that the exhibit took on more of coffee house atmosphere which was all the rage at the time in France. It was where well known influential people of the forth coming revolution would come and call upon Marie's "uncle" Curtis as their friend. It would happen to be that the salon of wax works would hold friendships with some of the grizzliest men of the revolution. Only they would not find out until it was too late to turn back the clock to a time when Marie still was able to call the royals who had once visited the salon her friends. By day Marie worked with the princess on her art and by night she would host the exhibit slash salon to people like Jean-Paul Murat, Camille Desmoulins, Thomas Jefferson, and Maximilien Robespierre. Marie would walk a fine line between the two worlds until they both came down upon each other in what is hailed as the glorious French Revolution.

    1 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 28, 2011

    Vive le roi!

    A gripping bit of historical fiction of the time when France fell from a centuries-old monarchy rule into abject tyranny. The story is told from the view of one of the Revolution's most iconic survivors, Madame Marie Grosholz Tussaud. The story carries the reader from Marie's humble beginnings to her rise in popularity and fame as the country's most well-known wax sculptress. Marie enjoys a somewhat idyllic life as she sculpts the royal family, whom she adores, and other aristocrats for the paying public to peruse in the ever-changing displays of her salon. Her family hosts a weekly dinner for a few important men of the city who were thought of as close friends. In the course of the weekly dinners, politics is, as usual, a main topic of discussion. This same group of dinner companions become the leaders in a bid for freedom, but gradually become despots themselves and known as the leaders in the Reign of Terror. Even Marie is branded as a traitor and imprisoned awaiting execution, by men she once thought of as trusted friends. Marie is a survivor. Out of necessity she has walked both sides of the street for the sake of her family. She has forsaken her true love and refused an offer of safety in a bid to keep her family from the horrors of the new tyranny. The story is ripe with the events of Marie's forced decisions during a time of upheaval. While awaiting execution in prison, Marie falls prey to a man who further becomes a captor, an emotional captor, and agrees to become his wife. The man drinks and gambles away Marie's hard-earned estate and she finally decides to leave and join that part of her family who were able to flee to England, along with her fist love, Henri Charles. The ending is somewhat dissatisfying because the reader yearns to see Marie return to a level of joyfulness. But alas, it seems this determined business woman is only intent on carrying on her trade. Perhaps she has endured too much in her life to do anything but carry on with the familiarity of her wax figures and exhibitions, even if the joy is no longer in it.

    All in all, I enjoyed this book. It is fictional work based on historic research. It serves as an inspiration to seek out other writings, such as "The Romance of Madame Tussaud's," written by one of Marie's descendants, John Theodore Tussaud.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 26, 2011

    Amazing Story

    As a lover of historical fiction, I was very excited to read this book. This is by far the author's best work. The book is written in the first person, which completely works here! A well-researched, colorful, superbly written book by an amazing author. It simply is perfection!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 6, 2015

    Interesting and Entertaining.

    This book was an easy read. If you ever wondered how people survived the French Revolution this book gives you an insight. Though I read a lot of history books this historical novel gave me an inside picture of how much the people who surrounded the King and Queen were influential in the keeping of traditions for their own profit. I would recommend this book to those interested in the details of the revolution and the history of Madame Tussaud.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 6, 2014

    Great book! I couldn't put it down.

    Great book! I couldn't put it down.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 4, 2014

    Great for students!!

    I read this for book report in my AP European history class and it definitely helped me understand the French Revolution much more thoroughly than in class. All the historical events are precisely accurate. Moran made it a gripping tale wanting you to know what would happen next. I would highly recommend it to anyone wanting to learn about the revolution quickly. I couldn't put the book down! Well done, Moran. :)

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 1, 2013

    Perfect read

    This is very great to read. I love this book.

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  • Posted January 19, 2013

    Among my favorite of all time now.  Really a great book.  A must

    Among my favorite of all time now.  Really a great book.  A must read for anyone into the French revolution or French history.  Great novel. 

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 23, 2012

    Interestung Interesting story

    I have always enjoyed reading about the French revolution and I thought thaat this story was an excllent read. There are a ton of historically acurate details and is a very quick read. I wiuld recommend to anyone!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 17, 2012

    Interesting story, fast read

    Interesting story, fast read

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 29, 2012

    Perfect

    Beautifully crafted and chocked with endless, true-life action, this hidtorical novel is a fascinating delight from beginning to end.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 24, 2012

    loved it!

    loved it!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 5, 2013

    Fact and fiction nicely combined

    Enjoed reading about the early life of such a well known woman who has transcended the ages and her empire grew from such a bloody historical time

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 20, 2012

    Great book.

    Read it.

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