‘Madame Tussaud: A Novel of the French Revolution’ by Michelle Moran

'Madame Tussaud: A Novel of the French Revolution' by Michelle Moran

‘Why does life carry some people on the crest of the wave while others drown beneath the water?’

Anna Maria Grosholtz Tussaud

I have never been to Madame Tussaud’s wax museum. Although I am in New York several times a week, I have just never been interested in popping in to see silly and superficial celebrities forevermore immortalized in wax. I respect the art, but I don’t respect all the chosen models (Paris Hilton, Lindsay Lohan … really? These are the people who shape our world?). However my feelings may have changed after reading this novel, as there is a lot more history to this wax museum than I could have ever expected.

First off, I never realized Marie Grosholtz Tussaud was a real woman – a woman who survived the French Revolution by making death masks of those beheaded during the terror including King Louis XVI and Queen Marie Antoinette; revolutionary Jean-Paul Marat and his murderess Charlotte Corday; and many others. She may have started the museum by sculpting important figures of the day – including Thomas Jefferson, the Marquis de Lafayette, and the royal family – but with the advent of the revolution came a drastic, and much more gory change to her salon. Only after the revolution did Marie moved to London and open the now famous Madame Tussauds Wax Museum.

Second, I never knew how truly bloody and heinous the French Revolution was. Thousands upon thousands of French citizens were killed – women and children included – not just the King, not just the Queen, not just aristocracy ruling class, but commoners as well. And in the end, ‘freedom’ was not found for the French people but instead a dictator named Napoleon whom plopped himself down and dubbed himself emperor. And in the end, even the revolutionaries of France were put to the same death as the King and Queen – via the dreaded and disgusting guillotine – as the people of France cast out the increasingly tyrannical revolutionary leaders as they had only years earlier cast out the monarchy of France.

Below are the Revolutionary leaders that featured prominently – and ultimately terrorized Marie – in this novel. I know as I was reading this tale, I desperately wished for some images of these real people that were gracing the pages of my book.

The ‘Tyrants’ of Madame Marie Tussaud’s French Revolution

French Revolutionary Tyrants as portrayed in 'Madame Tussaud: A Novel of the French Revolution' by Michelle Moran


‘But we are sorry when loss comes for us. The test of our character comes not in how many tears we shed but in how we act after those tears have dried.’

Though this book is a work of fiction, author Michelle Moran attempted to use historical fact to give Marie Tussaud – and the people of the French Revolution – an accurate and utterly realistic voice. Although some of the scenes is this book lean towards the vile and causes this reader to pause with revulsion, there is no bit of writing that does not have purpose or is added purely for shock value – the book is well-edited and well-written.

I would recommend this book, most especially to students studying the French Revolution as it would present a more relatable base to begin learning. I really enjoyed this novel, in a way I have never enjoyed the speeches of my sterile history teachers. And because I was able to form a relationship with the character of Marie, I feel a strong desire to learn more about the people of the revolution and the circumstance that changed a revolution into a tyranny.

Salon Summary

RECOMMENDABILITY: 4 {out of 5} stars  |  ★★★★☆
REPETITIVE READABILITY: 1 {out of 5} stars  |  ★☆☆☆☆
RATING: 4 {out of 5} stars  |  ★★★★☆

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