The year is 1788, and a revolution is about to begin….
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?
©2011 Michelle Moran (P)2011 Tantor
"Moran is a sprightly and gimlet-eyed writer, so this should be fun - and a possible breakout." (Library Journal)
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.
Long time listener . No dog walk until hooked up.Makes choirs less of a choir. The longer the better.mysteries and biographies are best
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.
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
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.
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.
This is a fantastic book. One of the best audiobooks I listened to this year. The story of the royal family broke my heart. Completely. The loss of humanity that characterizes the French Revolution is shocking and terrifying.
Viewing the unbelievable tragedy through the point of view of Madame Tussaud and the subsequent fame of her wax museum was a genius idea for Michelle Moran.
Stayed up all night to finish. This author is really amazing.
Learning about the "real" people that played huge parts in the French Revolution.
Madame Tussaud. A sculptor, as am I. What an adventure to be so closely entwined in the terrible events of the time.
It was fluid and well done.
It would be her. Obviously she was an amazing artist, who worked and lived hard. She is strong, and could fit easily into this modern time.
If you like historical novels, this one is packed with so much first hand information.
I have already listen twice..... intresting take on the french revolution and the beginings on how the wax museums came to be..
I found the making of the death masks by madame tussaud of the beheaded was something I had never given any thought too was very intresting...
no it was a long book... but would be great for a road trip
The narrator is easy to listen to. The story is wonderful. It beautifully merges the french revolution with an interesting look into the art and science of wax sculpting. I walked away with a marvelous impression of what it might have been like to live in the times and how the media of the day impacted the entertainment of the people of the time.
Enjoyed this story very much. It's not overtly feminine, Marie is not a flowery lady. The story features complicated relationships, political conflict, uprising factions, intrigue, and science. I found it to be an exciting romp as I followed Marie from just running her business to spending time among the courts of Versailles, to her inner turmoil about her loyalties, and her continuous strength and determination to see it all through.
The narrator is easy to listen to. Her voice depicted each character in an original way that kept me engaged in the story. Will look for other narrations she's done.
Antionette. The story gave me a new perception of the character. And, of course Marie who is wonderfully complicated.
I love the little historical elements that didn't call attention to themselves. I'm a HUGE fan of historical fiction.. and this is some of the best I've "read:
I haven't.. but I'll track down more.. she's AMAZING!!! The best performer I've heard so far!
I would have if I'd had the time.
Michelle Moran is an amazing historical futon writer. She gives you enough history so you learn something but also adds her personal touch so the story stays interesting. The narrator was also clear and engaging.
Yes. I enjoy history when it comes alive. This made it very real and gave insights into the various personalities involved.
Yes. She was very pleasant to listen to.
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