A Review: Michelle Moran's Madame Tussaud
This was my introduction to Moran's work and was largely unaware that her historical fiction titles feature powerful women in such a unique perspective. *Start the cheese* Generally weary of novels that feature such, I hate to say, gaudy cover art, I have finally learned that you should never judge a book by it's cover. *End of cheese*
Madame Tussaud, as you might have guessed, provides an intimate account of the life of one of the world's most well-known wax artists. Alongside a fierce desire to become a highly successful artist, who can support herself, Marie Grosholtz (Madame Tussaud) witnesses the start and end of the French Revolution. Marie cleverly plays her role in a struggle to survive. Morality, power, loss and art are themes explored quite heavily throughout the novel.
The novel loosely follows the progression of the revolution, showing numerous perspectives as Marie maintains contact with both the royal family and the leaders of the revolution. Blood, guts and gore, Marie must make gut-wrenching decisions, from creating wax molds of the heads of cadavers, to sneaking molds into the royal family while they're held captive. Events inspired from reality, Moran breathes life into this enigmatic female.
I found the novel most fascinating due to the fact that the storyline focused on a strong female character; one who possessed wit, intelligence and dedication to achieve stability in her life. Marie, forced to choose between domestic life and a career, faces the inevitable doubt that occurs when choosing one indefinitely. The novel, however, did not rely upon a budding relationship with her male counterpart, Henri, but focused on the political upheavel of the day, making the novel much more informative. For a female (and really any citizen in her position) during this period, it was incredible to see such a feat.
Madame Tussaud explores the intensely dark days of the French Revolution, and the disheartening extremes of humanity. I'd say that the novel isn't necessarily for those who detest violence and devious sexuality, but is worth the read due to the historical figures it presents. I've been on quite the historical hunt to find out more information about many of the individuals represented in the book.
If you enjoy historical fiction that presses you to find out more about the subject, Moran's Madame Tussaud is a perfect selection. Plus, a friend of mine let me borrow her copy of this book, so be sure to visit her site, Literature and a Lens, to see a more thorough review of the novel.