Whether you have visited one of her many wax museums or not, you will have no doubt heard of Madame Tussaud. And even if her life is something that has never crossed your mind before, you will finish this book with a thirst to find out more.
The year is 1788, the King and Queen of France are Louis the XVI and Marie Antoinette. Food shortages are widespread throughout the Kingdom and many people are starving … there is something in the air.
Marie Grosholtz (Madame Tusaud) runs the wax salon with her Uncle Philippe. The Salon was used in those days as a way to tell the public the news of what was happening at the time.
After a Royal visit to the Salon, Marie is invited to Versailles to teach the King’s sister and share her gift for modeling faces. Going between Paris and Versailles at this time is dangerous as people are beginning to pick sides. Are you a patriot or Royal sympathiser? Very smartly, Marie and her uncle are doing all they can to have eggs in each basket as it were, with Marie tutoring the King’s sister and the Salon quickly updating and showing the latest heroes of the Patriots in their tri-coloured cockades.
Although The French Revolution had been building for a long time, it hits with a shocking force. The patriots gain momentum and soon the Monarchy is overthrown unleashing a certain type of paranoia and anarchy to Paris.
It is at this time that Marie’s gift for modeling faces becomes a gruesome skill, as she is forced to make wax models of freshly cut off heads. Handed to her on a pike, some of these head are her friends. Though she could refuse, she would be in danger of being called a Royal sympathiser and killed herself. Such is the maniacal force of this mob.
Throughout all of this, Marie succumbs to the feelings of love she has for her neighbour and old friend, Henri. But what will she do when Henri wants them to flee? Will she go, or stay with her family and the Salon?
Some other characters pop up throughout this book that you may have heard of. Thomas Jefferson, the American ambassador to France and American revolutionary along with the hideous monster, Marquis de Sade where the term ‘sadistic’ originated. A man who’s very being makes your skin crawl.
Even though it based of fact, I don’t want to say any more. I absolutely encourage you to grab a copy of this. I can’t properly convey just how enamored I was by this book and I spent hours afterwards reading as much as I could online Madame Tussuad and Marie Antoinette. Googling like a fiend!
Oh … and thankfully there is only one reference to ‘let them eat cake’.