Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Review:MadameTussaud by Michelle Moran

Historical Fiction at it's best can fully immerse you in a moment of time. With Madame Tussaud, Michelle Moran succeeds at this wonderfully! I knew the name Tussaud, most of us do. I also knew she worked in wax. that's it. So I went into this novel with a strong interest in Tussaud's life.

Starting in Paris in 1788 and ending in August 1802 we follow the life of Marie Grosholtz whom Michelle describes as "wax-modeler and show-woman". These two titles are the essence of Marie and what draw us to hr story. Marie is unique for a woman of her times. She has shown such a proficiency for wax modeling and business that her "Uncle" Phillippe Curtius, defers to her in many aspects of their salon. He even makes her his heir.

Marie is a fascinating woman and Michelle's characterization of her unfolds subtlety and powerfully. I couldn't really connect with Marie initially. There was a controlled nature to her personality. Her loyalty to her family and the salon is commendable, as well as her ambition.
As events unfolded through out the narrative I became very attached to her. The tableau in which her life unfolds is fascinating. Marie and Phillippe straddle both worlds in there salon with strong ties withe the Royal family and the revolutionaries.

The salons and cafes of this times were the equivalent to the Internet and news stations. Marie spend a tremendous amount of time in them, sketching those in power and trying to gage the mood of the citizens and what they will respond to seeing at the salon.

Authority figures and loyalties change at the same speed as the moods of the French people. Choosing to stay with her family and business over a chance for love and security with Henri Charles, Marie is a witness to some of the darkest times in French

I had several distractions while reading this book (life will intrude!), but when ever I opened this novel all else melted away. Moran breathes such life into her characters both real life and fictionally realised. I was transported to the time period and  strongly experienced the terrors of the times through Marie's eyes.

It was at her worst, when Marie is forced daily to trudge to graveyards and make death masks, that the strength and courage of this young woman really shines through.

Gorgeous writing and descriptive passages folded within actual historical events make this book a riveting unforgettable read. It takes a very gifted Author to take historical data and journals and combine them with a strong narrative voice and character that is
relevant  to the life an struggles of the present.

This book also contains the historical data Moran collected as well as biographies of all the historical figures.

I'm so glad I discovered this author . I really look forward to reading her other novels.

Thanks to Crown Publishing for this Advanced Reading Copy.



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