During the month of June, I was reading the exceptional book Madame Tussaud by Michelle Moran. As you may have guessed, the story follows the wax sculptor Marie Grosholtz through the turbulent times of the French Revolution, back when her exhibition at the Salon de Cire in Paris was just becoming famous. (The events of the book occurred years before she moved her exhibition to London and it started to become more famous across the world). The story progresses from the budding French Revolution through the years of terror.
One of the greatest accomplishments of the book, and the reason that compelled me to read it from start to finish, was the closeness of Marie’s personal story against the backdrop of the French Revolution. I sympathized with Marie at all the right moments, just as Moran would have wanted, and yet learned a lot about the French Revolution. Moran captured the key moments of the French Revolution – the storming of the Bastille, the creation of the National Assembly, the abolition of the monarchy, and the rise of the Reign of Terror and the fervor to root out “royalists” – with perfect research, and no flaws or missteps.
Although the ending was a bit of a disappointment (don’t worry, I won’t reveal what happened), it struck a chord with me because I realized that this novel was chronicling a real-life event, and unlike in fantasy tales, things may not turn out exactly the way you want them to, but you can still move on and enjoy life.
Marie’s passion, individualism, and determination is what makes her an unforgettable heroine, and as Moran pointed out, her talent for wax sculpting was what kept her alive during the French Revolution. Today, Madame Tussauds is a high quality wax museum with exhibitions across the globe, and it all started with the will of the young Marie Grosholtz.
I highly recommend this book, especially if you are a history enthusiast but want a different spin on an already-told story – this book will not disappoint!