Madame Tussaud: A Novel of the French Revolution

Madame Tussaud:

A Novel of the French Revolution


Michelle MORAN

440 pages


As I mentioned in an earlier review on a Medieval historical fiction book, I enjoy historical fiction only if it is well written, enjoyable, and if the author has done a good background research study. You may think this goes without saying for historical fiction books. NO, this is NOT always the case.

One day, almost ashamed at not having read anything by the famous James Patterson, and wondering if I had missed something big as I saw so many people come and check out his books at my busy public library, I finally took the plunge and tried his The Murder of King Tut – no, I will not give you the link, it’s not worth it. I was so disappointed at the lousy job, for a book that is presented as historical fiction. How far away can you go at inventing anything you want in that genre?

Enough with Patterson, this was my first and last try at that.

As a major contrast, Michelle Moran, who also wrote a couple of books on Egypt that I ‘m dying of reading now, did a fantastic job of writing fiction on the base of a VERY serious historical research. I wish French students who study the French Revolution were assigned to read this book. This is so well done.

What a stoke of genius of having chosen Madame Tussaud as the main heroine: her way of maneuvering between both sides of the fence at the peril of her life fits so well.

There’s so much humanity in this book, including in the members of the royal family, something that people usually don’t talk much about in textbooks!

You learn not only about the socio-economic disaster of the period,  but also a lot on wax modeling, on drawing, on the relations between all these important figures of the time, on the conditions life in prison back then.

And the whole thing reads like a novel that it is, not a textbook. I read one day an interview by Ken Follett on The Fall of Giants, saying that if he wrote a textbook, and he would be absolutely capable of doing so, mind you, no one would read him; so he decided to write historical novels, including his historical research in a genre that people would be more likely to read. And his Fall of Giants is also irresistible!

I appreciated especially how Moran worked at increasing the tension as months and weeks go by. Excellently done!


The world knows Madame Tussaud as a wax artist extraordinaire . . . but who was this woman who became one of the most famous sculptresses of all time? In these pages, her tumultuous and amazing story comes to life as only Michelle Moran can tell it. The year is 1788, and a revolution is about to begin.

Smart and ambitious, 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, and even politics. Her customers hail from every walk of life, yet her greatest dream is to attract the attention of Marie Antoinette and Louis XVI; their stamp of approval on her work could catapult her and her museum to the fame and riches she desires. After months of anticipation, Marie learns that the royal family is willing to come and see their likenesses. When they finally arrive, the king’s sister is so impressed that she requests Marie’s presence at Versailles as a royal tutor in wax sculpting. It is a request Marie knows she cannot refuse—even if it means time away
from her beloved Salon and her increasingly dear friend, Henri Charles.

Meanwhile, many resent the vast separation between rich and poor. In salons and cafés 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? And 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? [Product description]

The book trailer is here, and many more goodies on it here.


Michelle Moran was born in the San Fernando Valley, CA. She took an interest in writing from an early age, purchasing Writer’s Market and submitting her stories and novellas to publishers from the time she was twelve. When she was accepted into Pomona College she took as many classes as possible in British Literature, particularly Milton, Chaucer, and the Bard. Not surprisingly, she majored in English while she was there. Following a summer in Israel where she worked as a volunteer archaeologist, she earned an MA from the Claremont Graduate University.

Michelle has traveled around the world, from Zimbabwe to India, and her experiences at archaeological sites were what inspired her to write historical fiction. She is the international bestselling author of Nefertiti, The Heretic Queen, and Cleopatra’s Daughter. [Read more on the author’s website, from where this was copied]

Michelle Moran has a blog.




6 thoughts on “Madame Tussaud: A Novel of the French Revolution

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