Thursday, August 7, 2014

Madame Tussaud

Walk through the French Revolution through the eyes of one of France's most famous citizens.

Summary (from Smart and ambitious, Marie Tussaud has learned the secrets of wax sculpting by working alongside her uncle in their celebrated wax museum, the Salon de Cire. From her popular model of the American ambassador, Thomas Jefferson, to her tableau of the royal family at dinner, Marie’s museum provides Parisians with the very latest news on fashion, gossip, and even politics. Her customers hail from every walk of life, yet her greatest dream is to attract the attention of Marie Antoinette and Louis XVI; their stamp of approval on her work could catapult her and her museum to the fame and riches she desires. After months of anticipation, Marie learns that the royal family is willing to come and see their likenesses. When they finally arrive, the king’s sister is so impressed that she requests Marie’s presence at Versailles as a royal tutor in wax sculpting. It is a request Marie knows she cannot refuse—even if it means time away from her beloved Salon and her increasingly dear friend, Henri Charles.

As Marie gets to know her pupil, Princesse √Člisabeth, she also becomes acquainted with the king and queen, who introduce her to the glamorous life at court. From lavish parties with more delicacies than she’s ever seen to rooms filled with candles lit only once before being discarded, Marie steps into a world entirely different from her home on the Boulevard du Temple, where people are selling their teeth in order to put food on the table.

Meanwhile, many resent the vast separation between rich and poor. In salons and caf√©s across Paris, people like Camille Desmoulins, Jean-Paul Marat, and Maximilien Robespierre are lashing out against the monarchy. Soon, there’s whispered talk of revolution. . . . Will Marie be able to hold on to both the love of her life and her friendship with the royal family as France approaches civil war? And more important, will she be able to fulfill the demands of powerful revolutionaries who ask that she make the death masks of beheaded aristocrats, some of whom she knows?

Spanning five years, from the budding revolution to the Reign of Terror,Madame Tussaud brings us into the world of an incredible heroine whose talent for wax modeling saved her life and preserved the faces of a vanished kingdom.

Me & Tom Jones at
Madame Tussaud's in
London (about 10 years ago)
Review: I'm usually very critical of Michelle Moran's historical accuracy, but I felt like she really hit things on the head with this book.

I enjoyed this book thoroughly. What I kept noticing throughout was that Moran was able to achieve an amazing balance between the events of the time and the life of the main character.

I've always found the French Revolution a bit confusing to follow. The politics were extremely complicated and there were a lot of main players. However, I was able to follow quite easily in this book.

As for Madame Tussaud herself, she was a very interesting woman, a born entrepreneur, which was not an easy thing to be in her time. It was fun seeing Paris through the eyes of the middle class. Usually I read about it either from the viewpoint of royalty and courtiers or their servants.

I also appreciated the notes at the back of the book on what happened with each of the characters.

One thing that was amusing was reading about the visitors to the wax museum at that time. Very little has changed. I have to admit, I have paid money to walk through a Madame Tussaud's so that I could get up close and personal with wax figures, and to have my photo taken with the famous likenesses. Such a strange thing to do, isn't it, but it's as fascinating today as it was in 1788~

Me & my favourite
Starfleet Captain
Have you ever been to a Madame Tussaud's wax museum?  Did you know that there are 20 museums spread across 4 different continents?  Who was your favourite attraction?  Leave a comment below~

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