Library Journal *Starred Review*
In her fourth novel (after Cleopatra’s Daughter), Moran turns from the ancient world to the French Revolution and Madame Tussaud (1761–1850), the namesake of the famous wax museum. The book follows Marie Tussaud from her beginnings as an unknown wax sculptor working to obtain a visit from the royal family, an event that will garner acclaim for her family’s wax salon. But when called to tutor a royal family member, she is placed at the center of the downfall of the French monarchy. Tussaud uses her new position to sculpt likenesses of major politicians, turning her salon into a three-dimensional newsstand for illiterate citizens. The result, however, is that the commoners soon demand that she create replicas of executed political figures directly from their corpses.
Verdict Certain to be a breakout book for Moran, this superbly written and plotted work is a welcome addition to historical fiction collections. The shocking actions and behavior required of Tussaud to survive the revolution make the novel a true page-turner and a perfect reading group choice.
—Audrey M. Johnson, Arlington, VA
“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 realise 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, NYT bestselling author of Innocent Traitor