I've read Michelle Moran's previous novels and have liked them reasonably well. I've thought her writing and research were good, but not great; there has generally been something about each one that I thought could have been better. However Madame Tussaud
is in a league of its own. It is near perfect - historical fiction at its finest - and by far her best novel.
The book's full title is Madame Tussaud: A Novel of the French Revolution
, and that's an important clue to its subject. While we do find out a bit about Marie Grosholtz's life (she doesn't become Madame Tussaud until the book's epilogue), she's not the book's focus. This is a novel about the French Revolution, not about the rise of the creator of a famous museum. Marie is a witness; her first-person account of life before and during the Revolution provides a glimpse into the opulence of the dying...
Beyond the Book
The well-known tourist attraction and wax museum, Madame Tussauds, had its start in the streets of Paris just before the French Revolution. Dr. Philippe Curtius, Madame Tussaud's mentor, opened his first cabinet de cire
(wax exhibition) in Paris in 1770. It proved so popular that he was forced to move to larger accommodations twice and eventually opened a second location in 1782. When Curtius died in 1794, he left the business to his protégé, Anna Maria Grosholtz, who later became Madame Tussaud when she married François Tussaud in 1795.
Tussaud began touring...