“Here is a truth: people are very fascinated by themselves.” – Edward Carey
The wry, macabre, unforgettable tale of an ambitious orphan in Revolutionary Paris, befriended by royalty and radicals, who transforms herself into the legendary Madame Tussaud.
In 1761, a tiny, odd-looking girl named Marie is born in a village in Switzerland. After the death of her parents, she is apprenticed to an eccentric wax sculptor and whisked off to the seamy streets of Paris, where they meet a domineering widow and her quiet, pale son. Together, they convert an abandoned monkey house into an exhibition hall for wax heads, and the spectacle becomes a sensation. As word of her artistic talent spreads, Marie is called to Versailles, where she tutors a princess and saves Marie Antoinette in childbirth. But outside the palace walls, Paris is roiling: The revolutionary mob is demanding heads, and . . . at the wax museum, heads are what they do.
Weird and wonderful! This book is one of the most unique stories I’ve ever read. I’m not sure how much of it is actually a true representation of the life of Madame Tussaud, but it has certainly made me want to read more about her.
The character of Little (or Marie) was so kind and compassionate, when life had really given her no reason to be. From her humble beginnings to the little cupboard she lived in while in service to King Louis XVI in Versaille, everything about her life was hard. Yet she was not.
She befriended everyone from a wild boy to King Louis XVI himself. She used her wits and talent to survive the Revolution..and in the end she left the legacy of her art and her museums.
The art work and sketches sprinkled through the book are also lovely and add a little extra insight into who Anne Marie Grosholtz (Madame Tussaud) was.
I enjoyed every page of this extraordinary book about an extraordinary young woman.