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Unveiling the Woman Behind the Masks
A Novel of the French Revolution
By Michelle Moran
Advance Praise for MADAME TUSSAUD
“This is a first-class novel, brilliantly written, and Michelle Moran has authentically evoked an era, infusing her narrative with passages of gripping and often horrifying drama, set in one of history’s most brutal periods. The scope of the author’s research is staggering, but you won’t need to get to the notes at the end to realize that. As historical novels go, this is of the first rank—a page-turner that is both vividly and elegantly written. I feel privileged to be able to endorse it.”
—Alison Weir, author of Eleanor of Aquitaine
In 2007, Michelle Moran published her debut novel, Nefertiti. Crafting a work of fiction around one of the most well-known women in history wasn’t easy, but with Moran’s combination of impeccable research, elegant descriptions, and vivid characters, Nefertiti went on to become a national bestseller and firmly established her as an author to watch. With her subsequent novels The Heretic Queen and Cleopatra’s Daughter, Moran’s star has continued to rise, as she has become the novelist of the ancient world. This spring, however, Moran steps out of the realm of Egypt and Rome into new territory—the gilded but troubled court of Marie Antoinette—where her talent truly shines through.
While many have written about revolutionary France and its infamous players, Moran breaks away from the pack with a well-known, yet relatively unexamined narrator: Marie Tussaud. The woman better known as Madame, Marie was an eye witness to the Revolution and experienced its terror firsthand. In MADAME TUSSAUD: A Novel of the French Revolution (Crown; February 15, 2011), Moran channels Marie to provide a fictionalized account of her life and this momentous time in history.
In Paris, in the year 1788, there is whispered talk of revolution. While the aristocracy enjoys wealth and fortune, for the poor bread can only be had on the black market, and men sell their teeth to put food on their tables. Marie enjoys a comfortable life thanks to her skill creating wax figures. At her stepfather’s famed wax museum, the Salon de Cire, she has been with some of the most influential people of her day—Desmoulins, Benjamin Franklin, and Robespierre—to craft their likenesses. Word of her gift travels quickly and soon the royal family comes to pay Marie a visit to the Salon. Impressed by her work, Marie is invited to court, where she tutors the king’s sister, Princesse Élisabeth, in wax sculpting. Living at Versailles, Marie experiences the opulence of King Louis XVI and Queen Marie Antoinette, but the fairy tale abruptly comes to a halt when the rumors of revolution quickly turn into all-out war. All over Paris, people are being sentenced to death by guillotine on ridiculous charges. For her relationship with the monarchy, Marie is on the list of “traitors,” but the revolutionaries allow her to live on one horrifying condition: that she use her gift to create the death masks of the beheaded aristocracy.
Spanning five years, MADAME TUSSAUD takes readers from the beginnings of the Revolution to its horrific end, as seen through the eyes of an incredible heroine whose talent for wax modeling saved her life and preserved the faces of a vanished kingdom. Rich with history and graceful prose, Moran has vibrantly re-created the glory—and the horrors—of eighteenth-century Paris through Marie’s incredible story.
About the Author
Michelle Moran is the author of the bestselling Nefertiti, The Heretic Queen, and Cleopatra’s Daughter. Her experiences at archaeological sites around the world motivated her to write historical fiction and continue to provide inspiration for her novels.
By Michelle Moran
Crown Publishing Group
February 15, 2011 * Pages: 464
Price: $25.00 * ISBN: 978-0-307-58865-4