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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, even politics. Her customers hail from every walk of life, and when word arrives that the royals themselves are coming to see their likenesses, Marie never dreams that the king's sister will request her presence at Versailles as a royal tutor in wax sculpting. Yet when a letter with a gold seal is delivered to her home, Marie knows she cannot refuse---even if it means time away from her beloved Salon and her increasingly dear friend Henri Charles.
As Marie becomes acquainted with her pupil, Princess Elisabeth, she is taken to meet both Marie Antoinette and King Louis XVI, 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 to 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 cafes 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? 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?
Customer ReviewsMost Helpful
By James B. Donahue on 01-06-12
Couldn't stop listening to this book
Would you listen to Madame Tussaud again? Why?
I would absolutely listen to this book again. I loved this book. The main character of this book is in the unique position of being having a talent that appealed to both the royalty and the common people and that talent gave her insight into both sides of the revolution. I have read other books on this time period in France and ended up with knowledge of what happened but never really understood how or why it happened the way it did. Michelle Moran weaves a very absorbing story using the actual people and events of the time. I couldn't stop listening to this book. I was driven to get to the end, but was sad when I reached it. I loved the fact that at the end of the book she reveals what eventually happened to the main characters in their actual lives. It gave the book a kind of closure. I thought that the reader, Rosalyn Landor, was wonderful. I was not put off in the least by her slight British accent because her French pronunciation of names, places and events was flawless and she is very easy to listen to.
What other book might you compare Madame Tussaud to and why?
Although the style,situation,and time period is vastly different, I would say that I have not enjoyed a book so much since I read
Have you listened to any of Rosalyn Landor???s other performances before? How does this one compare?
I have not listened to Rosalyn Landor before but I will certainly look for other books that she has read. She is a wonderful reader with a pleasant voice.
Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?
I did want to listen to it all in one sitting but I started to listen to this book on December 21st. I listened while wrapping presents, decorating the tree, and while baking cookies but there were some times that I did have to take the earphones out and pause the book.
14 of 14 people found this review helpful
By Tim on 07-23-12
Tales from a turbulent time
As a high schooler in the UK we covered the French Revolution in some depth, round about the same time I had roles in various productions centered around those events so I used to think that even all these years later I had a reasonably good handle on that period. As it turns out I really didn’t. The revolution took place over a longer period than I remember and was both more strange and bloody than I ever imagined. This story retells the stunning events of those times through the eyes of Madame Tussaud. Our heroine gives modeling lessons to some of the royal family whist entertaining many of the instigators of the revolution in the rooms above their exhibit. It’s a terrifically successful device, allowing the reader access to both sides of the events through the same perspective. The wax works as the CNN of their day, with the displays changing almost day by day to mirror the rapidly changing events.
The author maintains historic accuracy whilst weaving a dramatic narrative through the protagonists; it feels authentic without being dry or dull. If I have any criticism; the story does wander a little into romantic fiction in a few spots, they are slight transgressions and she rapidly snaps back. If you have ever wondered about that turbulent time or wandered through the modern wax works inspired by the genius of Tussaud you will find this tale gripping. It’s also fascinating for the history enthusiast as it brings great detail and color to the events. For example; in modern terms the French Royal family and their many thousands of hangers on cost the French economy 166Bn a year….which is a lot when many of your populace are starving in the streets. It was also fascinating to see how the extremists of the time foreshadowed the excesses in thought and deed we have seen many times since, the same kind of madness which gripped Fascist Germany, Stains Russia and Pol Pots Cambodia.
17 of 18 people found this review helpful