Murakami Sale
 
 

Recently Viewed clear list


Original Essays | August 21, 2014

Richard Bausch: IMG Why Literature Can Save Us



Our title is, of course, a problem. "Why Literature Can Save Us." And of course the problem is one of definition: what those words mean. What is... Continue »
  1. $18.87 Sale Hardcover add to wish list

    Before, During, After

    Richard Bausch 9780307266262

spacer

This item may be
out of stock.

Click on the button below to search for this title in other formats.


Check for Availability
Add to Wishlist

Madame Tussaud: A Novel of the French Revolution

Madame Tussaud: A Novel of the French Revolution Cover

ISBN13: 9780307588654
ISBN10: 0307588653
All Product Details

 

 

Excerpt

Chapter 1

Paris

December 12, 1788

Although it is mid-December and everyone with sense is huddled near a fire, more than two dozen women are pressed together in Rose Bertin’s shop, Le Grand Mogol. They are heating themselves by the handsome bronze lamps, but I do not go inside. These are women of powdered poufs and ermine cloaks, whereas I am a woman of ribbons and wool. So I wait on the street while they shop in the warmth of the queen’s favorite store. I watch from outside as a girl picks out a showy pink hat. It’s too pale for her skin, but her mother nods and Rose Bertin claps her hands eagerly. She will not be so eager when she notices me. I have come here every month for a year with the same request. But this time I am certain Rose will agree, for I am prepared to offer her something that only princes and murderers possess. I don’t know why I didn’t think of it before.

 

I stamp my feet on the slick cobblestones of the Rue Saint- Honoré. My breath appears as a white fog in the morning air. This is the harshest winter in memory, and it has come on the heels of a poor summer harvest. Thousands will die in Paris, some of the cold, others of starvation. The king and queen have gifted the city as much firewood as they can spare from Versailles. In thanks, the people have built an obelisk made entirely of snow; it is the only monument they can afford. I look down the street, expecting to see the fish sellers at their carts. But even the merchants have fled the cold, leaving nothing but the stink of the sea behind them.

 

When the last customer exits Le Grand Mogol, I hurry inside. I shake the rain from my cloak and inhale the warm scent of cinnamon from the fi re. As always, I am in awe of what Rose Bertin has accomplished in such a small space. Wide, gilded mirrors give the impression that the shop is larger than it really is, and the candles flickering from the chandeliers cast a burnished glow across the oil paintings and embroidered settees. It’s like entering a comtesse’s salon, and this is the effect we have tried for in my uncle’s museum. Intimate rooms where the nobility will not feel out of place. Although I could never afford the bonnets on these shelves— let alone the silk dresses of robin’s-egg blue or apple green— I come here to see the new styles so that I can copy them later. After all, that is our exhibition’s greatest attraction. Women who are too poor to travel to Versailles can see the royal family in wax, each of them wearing the latest fashions.

 

“Madame?” I venture, closing the door behind me.

 

Rose Bertin turns, and her high- pitched welcome tells me that she expects another woman in ermine. When I emerge from the shadows in wool, her voice drops. “Mademoiselle Grosholtz,” she says, disappointed.

 

“I gave you my answer last month.” She crosses her arms over her chest. Everything about Rose Bertin is large. Her hips, her hair, the satin bows that cascade down the sides of her dress.

“Then perhaps you’ve changed your mind,” I say quickly. “I know you have the ear of the queen. They say that there’s no one else she trusts more.”

 

“And you’re not the only one begging favors of me,” she snaps.

 

“But we’re good patrons.”

 

“Your uncle bought two dresses from me.”

 

“We would buy more if business was better.”

This isn’t a lie. In eighteen days I will be twenty-eight, but there is nothing of value I own in this world except the wax figures that I’ve created for my uncle’s exhibition. I am an inexpensive niece to maintain. I don’t ask for any of the embellishments in Le Journal des Dames, or for pricey chemise gowns trimmed in pearls. But if I had the livres, I would spend them in dressing the figures of our museum. There is no need for me to wear gemstones and lace, but our patrons come to the Salon de Cire to see the finery of kings. If I could, I would gather up every silk fan and furbelow in Rose Bertin’s shop, and our Salon would rival her own. But we don’t have that kind of money. We are showmen, only a little better-off than the circus performers who exhibit next door.

 

“Think of it,” I say eagerly. “I could arrange a special tableau for her visit. An image of the queen sitting in her dressing room. With you by her side. The Queen and Her Minister of Fashion,” I tell her.

 

Rose’s lips twitch upward. Although Minister of Fashion is an insult the papers use to criticize her influence over Marie Antoinette, it’s not far from the truth, and she knows this. She hesitates. It is one thing to have your name in the papers, but to be immortalized in wax . . . That is something reserved only for royals and criminals, and she is neither.

 

“So what would you have me say?” she asks slowly.

 

My heart beats quickly. Even if the queen dislikes what I’ve done— and she won’t, I know she won’t, not when I’ve taken such pains to get the blue of her eyes just right— the fact that she has personally come to see her wax model will change everything. Our exhibition will be included in the finest guidebooks to Paris. We’ll earn a place in every Catalog of Amusements printed in France. But most important, we’ll be associated with Marie Antoinette. Even after all of the scandals that have attached themselves to her name, there is only good business to be had by entertaining Their Majesties.

 

“Just tell her that you’ve been to the Salon de Cire. You have, haven’t you?”

 

“Of course.” Rose Bertin is not a woman to miss anything. Even a wax show on the Boulevard du Temple. “It was attractive.” She adds belatedly, “In its way.”

 

“So tell that to the queen. Tell her I’ve modeled the busts of Voltaire, Rousseau, Benjamin Franklin. Tell her there will be several of her. And you.”

 

Rose is silent. Then finally, she says, “I’ll see what I can do.”

What Our Readers Are Saying

Add a comment for a chance to win!
Average customer rating based on 3 comments:

KimberlyB, January 2, 2012 (view all comments by KimberlyB)
This book is very aptly titled; it really is "A Novel of the French Revolution". Although I'm a lover of historical fiction, I haven't read much HF set in France so went into this book largely ignorant of the events of the Revolution. As Moran states at the beginning of her "Historical Note" at the end of the novel, "It is hard to relate just how turbulent and bloody the years of the French Revolution really were...[they] make for what can be a challenging read, simply because so many innocent people perished in the name of liberty, equality, and fraternity." I'm still in a bit of shock at just how bloody and tragic it was. Moran does a great job at imparting knowledge of the events spanning from 1789 through 1794 while keeping the reader engaged and maintaining historical accuracy by taking very few fictional liberties. This is not a feel-good story, but it isn't meant to be. The witch hunt for those who are "traitors to the patrie" is reminiscent of our own HUAAC mixed with the Inquisition. And, as one part of the book says, "people's imagination has proven stronger than reality" in the conviction and execution of supposed traitors. They really were sad and tragic times.

As for Madame Tussaud herself, her character is incredible. I will admit when I first heard of this book I immediately thought of the slightly cheesy wax museums of our day and age. As Moran has pointed though, people in the late 1700s didn't have the means or ability to travel and see people and places as we do now, nor did they have the media we do today where we know what everything and everyone looks like. Tussaud truly was an artist creating 3D portraits of people and places that the general populous would rarely, if ever, get the opportunity to see.
Was this comment helpful? | Yes | No
KimberlyB, July 18, 2011 (view all comments by KimberlyB)
This book is very aptly titled; it really is "A Novel of the French Revolution". Moran does a great job at imparting knowledge of the events spanning from 1789 through 1794 while keeping the reader engaged and maintaining historical accuracy by taking very few fictional liberties. As for Madame Tussaud herself, her character is incredible. I will admit when I first heard of this book I immediately thought of the slightly cheesy wax museums of our day and age. As Moran has pointed out, people in the late 1700s didn't have the means or ability to travel and see people and places as we do now, nor did they have the media we do today where we know what everything and everyone looks like. Tussaud truly was an artist creating 3D portraits of people and places that the general populous would rarely, if ever, get the opportunity to see. Excellent read!
Was this comment helpful? | Yes | No
MissHollie, December 24, 2010 (view all comments by MissHollie)
I am very anxiously awaiting the arrival of this novel! Moran is sublime!!
Was this comment helpful? | Yes | No
(0 of 1 readers found this comment helpful)
View all 3 comments

Product Details

ISBN:
9780307588654
Publisher:
Crown
Subject:
General
Author:
Moran, Michelle
Subject:
Historical - General
Subject:
General Fiction
Subject:
Historical fiction
Subject:
Biographical fiction
Subject:
Historical
Subject:
Literature-A to Z
Series Volume:
A Novel of the Frenc
Publication Date:
20110215
Binding:
Hardback
Grade Level:
General/trade
Language:
English
Pages:
464
Dimensions:
9.55 x 6.53 x 1.58 in 1.7 lb

Related Subjects

Fiction and Poetry » Literature » A to Z
Fiction and Poetry » Literature » Biographical

Madame Tussaud: A Novel of the French Revolution
0 stars - 0 reviews
$ In Stock
Product details 464 pages Crown Publishing Group (NY) - English 9780307588654 Reviews:
"Publishers Weekly Review" by , "From Versailles to Boulevard du Temple, royalists to revolutionaries, art to science, Moran (Cleopatra's Daughter) returns with a new historical novel of fierce polarities. Set during the French Revolution, with an emphasis on the Reign of Terror, Moran's fourth deftly chronicles the consequences of seeking reversals in power — or liberty. Marie Grosholtz, the talented wax sculptress who would become Madame Tussaud, narrates with verve. She and her family are 'survivalists' who 'straddle both worlds until it's clear which side will be the victor...' but never come across as opportunists; they are resourceful, sympathetic individuals facing an unraveling nation and an increasingly angry mob mentality. Though readers may wince at the inevitable beheadings, the storming of the Bastille, and the actions of men like Robespierre, Moran tempers brutality with Marie's romance and passion for artistry; quiet moments in the family's atelier provide much needed respite. This is an unusually moving portrayal of families in distress, both common and noble. Marie Antoinette in particular becomes a surprisingly dimensional figure rather than the fashionplate, spendthrift caricature depicted in the pamphlets of her times. A feat for Francophiles and adventurers alike. (Feb.)" Publishers Weekly (Copyright PWyxz LLC)
spacer
spacer
  • back to top
Follow us on...




Powell's City of Books is an independent bookstore in Portland, Oregon, that fills a whole city block with more than a million new, used, and out of print books. Shop those shelves — plus literally millions more books, DVDs, and gifts — here at Powells.com.