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4.2 out of 5 stars47
4.2 out of 5 stars
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on 29 August 2012
A very readable account of this extremely complicated period of history. I particularly liked the way it exploded a lot of myths, or perhaps they are just my personal misconceptions. Like the storming of the Bastille was to get gunpowder, not to release prisoners, and the guillotine didn't appear until quite far on in the proceedings. Madam T is a great subject for a novel - you could hardly make her up! A foot in each camp - and she survived! The fact that this is a well researched story and so much of the almost unbelieveable facts and events are actually true adds a real depth to this fascinating read.
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on 26 August 2012
I love reading about the French Revolution era, and this book is packed full of facts and history of the time period. If I'm honest, if I didn't enjoy this time period so much I probably would only have given this book three stars because the characters aren't that interesting in themselves. The history makes them who they are, but the characterization could have done with a bit more development. That aside though, I did love the book as a sort of 'history mouthpiece' and found the events fascinating - if you prefer characters to history then you're probably better off reading something else.
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on 20 August 2011
i thoroughly enjoyed this book and will most probably read many more times.
when i first picked up my this book i thought that this would be a close quarter account of how madam Tussuad came to be. It is this but it is so much more the intimate story of the french revolution the invention of the guillotine and the political ramifications throughout the country.
the way it is written is captivating and i read it in three days and i couldnt put it down.
there is love, hate, betrayal and gore to some extent. i think this read has qualities that any reader will enjoy
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VINE VOICEon 14 August 2012
I studied the French Revolution at university as it is perhaps one of the most pivotal times in modern European history. Personally, I found it a very complicated time to study and found it difficult to get my head round all the counter=revolutions and politics of the day. I so wish I had read this book then because it explains it all very clearly and in a very enjoyable and accessible way. I know students would hugely benefit from reading this book.
As a novel, it is maybe slightly weaker as the story of Madame Tussaud, although interesting, is secondary to the rich historical details portraying the FR. If you want mere entertainment from a novel this would not be for you as it is a rich and learning experience; I learned far more about this period than I did from slogging through all the academic text books I was forced to read. It does also work well as a story too; Moran brings this period so vividly to life and her use of the character of Madame Tussaud and her relationships with the key figures made it all seem very credible and realistic.
I loved this book and thoroughly recommend this to anyone but particularly to students of history.
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on 6 December 2012
I found this book to be interesting and gave lots of information about a period in history (French Revolution) which I had limited knowledge. I found the character of Madame Tussaud to be a little emotionless and found it difficult to connect with her. At times the book was brutal and there were times I almost gave up - however I persevered and finished it. I give my ratings on how many of my friends I would recommend the book to and as at the end of this story I felt I would have to carefully pick people to recommend I only gave a 3 star rating.
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on 29 August 2012
This is an easy read and draws you into the character and her family. It tells of how Madame Tussaud became who she was, how they had to play royality against the people. It takes you through the french revolution showing how the crowds were manipulated and the roles key figures played. The story as a whole was good but the ending happened rather rapidly and did not develop how the family got together and changed after the revolution. otherwise thoroughly enjoyable.
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on 16 October 2011
I had never read a book of Michelle morans before so didnt know what to expect.I found the book to be very readable and informative. It is a particular favourite period of mine and I found the author brought all the main characters to life.InterestinG to read about MADAME tUSSARD AS i HAVE never BEFORE READ A BOOKE DEVOTED to her interesting life.I am now a Michelle Moran fan and look forward to her next book about Napolean and Josephine
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on 16 October 2014
Well researched and extremely well written. However, I felt the author did not quite capture the evident strength of character of Marie Tussaud. In modern terms Marie Tussaud would be termed "a tough cookie". Nonetheless the historical facts were amazingly accurate. For anyone who likes historical novels this book needs to be read.
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on 17 May 2011
Anachronisms and historical inaccuracies have been a big problem in Moran's past novels, and "Madame Tussaud" has a scattered few, none that are too major. Probably the biggest historical inaccuracies in this book are actually what Moran has omitted, not what she has put in. Being pretty familiar with this period, I kept waiting and waiting to read about the Girondin Club and the Paris Commune, but I turned the final page and they were nowhere to be found, pretty astonishing given the big role they played in the Revolution. Moran explains in her Author's Note that she left them out of the story in essence because she felt there was so much stuff going on in the Revolution anyway that to complicate the story any further wasn't a decision she was prepared to make. I think I could have coped with their inclusion, but at least she admits to the omission in her Author's Note and explains why, when too many authors just leave you wondering.

The main character of Marie never came across as too perfect, which was a relief in a first person novel which can tend towards self-involvement from the protagonist, and her faults laid in her tendency towards workalholicism and her ability to misjudge people. I quite liked Marie's "voice". Unlike some of Moran's previous protagonists, Nefertari or Kleopatra Selene for example, Marie is an adult, and she's ordinary; her only skills and talents are wax modelling and a head for business, though even then the Salon depends on a good deal of luck to make ends meet. She's also practical and reasonably intelligent, and even better she is more concerned with pursuing her own career and happiness than marrying - her happiness does not solely depend upon her romantic interest, and unlike some of Moran's previous novels, the plot does not revolve around how Marie must marry to be happy or learn to please her husband in order to get ahead or for him to trust her. The story definitely felt like it was meatier than Moran's previous efforts. Maybe that's because the choice of period is so much closer to our own time and thus Moran had more material to draw upon, or maybe it's because the Revolution was a time jam-packed with momentous events and interesting people, but I'm going to be generous and say it was probably a combination of that and Moran's improvements as a writer.

Once or twice, the novel suffers from logic failures, nothing major though, and again once or twice I got a little bit of a sense of name-dropping, but it wasn't overpowering. The exposition scenes were a little clunky and clumsy, but done so much better than in Moran's previous novel, "Cleopatra's Daughter", much more woven into the actual plot. I would have liked a novel about the French Revolution to be rather more epic in scale, to convey the full drama, horror, and importance of events... but this wasn't a novel about the French Revolution so much as Marie's story, and although Marie gets caught up with the various events and movers and shakers, she's still just an ordinary person trying to scrape a living and keep her family safe. That her story felt cosy and insular and not so epic in scope was right for the story, and though some events are related to her secondhand, they are described in enough detail, and delivered mere hours after events, still close enough to inject some sense of risk and tension. This way it did feel very much like we're with Marie throughout. The writing wasn't absolutely scintillating stuff, but the story was interesting enough to keep me tripping along and reading to the end. The ending was a little bit deus ex machina followed by something of a bum note, which was a tad deflating but as a whole I'd say the novel overcomes this bump at the end.

Although I strongly disliked Moran's previous three books set in Ancient Egypt, each one was a tiny bit better than the last, and I do have to say that "Madame Tussaud" is a noticeable improvement yet again. I actually enjoyed this book. There were niggles and it was lacking in certain respects but in no place was it truly bad; I liked Marie as a character - and the protagonist was a real, identifiable, likable character, not just a cardboard cut out or a Mary Sue - and once the Revolution got going things began to really heat up and I wanted to continue reading and see how it would end.

6 out of 10.
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on 10 November 2015
For anyone who enjoys history, this is an extremely good novel. The incredibly interesting story of Marie and her family is set against the backdrop of the truly horrific French Revolution. Michelle Moran manages to conjure up the fear and madness that surrounded this barbaric time in the history of France.
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