Friday, 8 April 2011

HISTORICAL FICTION REVIEW: Madame Tussaud - Michelle Moran

Release Date: 03/03/11


Marie has grown up in her step-father's waxwork museum, learning the ways of crafting human statues for the rich and famous of Paris. But all is not well in the French capital, the people are going hungry while the king and queen and their court live increasingly lavish lives. Surrounded by her father's friends, Marie learns of their plans for revolution. All the while, she talks to her best friend and childhood sweetheart, Jack. Meanwhile a visit from Marie Antoinette results in Marie being offered a job in the palace, teaching the reviled queen how to make waxwork masks. Wary at first, Marie soon discovers the most hated woman in France to be charming, endearing and ultimately a dear friend. And when the revolution comes, Marie's loyalties are sorely tested. As an ally of the queen, she is thrown into jail and only has one method of survival - to make death masks of the key figures of the revolution and buy her way out. Will Jack have waited, or lost patience with her friendship with the queen?


With the tumultuous times at the end of the 19th Century it makes for a rich period to create tales of daring, of heroics and stories of great courage as the peoples concerned faced great peril. So as such it’s not really a surprise when an author decides to create a story set in the French Revolution, the key however is finding the right character for the reader to follow whether the story is wholly fiction or based on true events of some of the famous people involved. It’s the later that Michelle Moran has decided to go with in this her fourth title and whilst it was interesting, the principle player really left a lot to be desired as this title felt more like The French Revolution featuring Madam Tussaud rather than the characters own strong story of survival, friendships and of course waxworks.

Add to this the danger of the story being overwhelmed by too many supporting cast which is invariably going to occur and it’s a tale that unfortunately didn’t allow Tussaud to come over as strongly as she should have which left me as the reader feeling that she was more of an afterthought to the title rather than the sole focus from the beginning. Sadly when this happens the greatest danger is that most readers won’t even get that far into a title as it can be a real struggle for them to continue when they really don’t care about the principle character with many giving up quite early on which will cost them the last quarter which really allowed her to come into her own.

Back that up with overly used French terms which whilst there was a glossary kept interfering with the tales flow and its sadly a title that whilst I finally got what I wanted felt a little like too little too late. Other than focussing more on having a strong lead from the start I really would have appreciated some images of the main players concerned to help flesh them out a little as it felt that every other courtesy had been added including detailed maps for relevant locations. All in, if you want a tale of Revolution it does an admirable job; if you want one with a strong lead character then sadly this title may not be the best one for you. I will keep an eye out for future titles by this author but if she fails again to give me a character to be able to identify with within the first quarter I may not touch another title for quite some time.

1 comment:

Angela Addams said...

This sound interesting - although I often lose interest if I'm not connecting within the first few pages - it's a maybe read for the future!