The sweet irony is this book took me months to read and is by no means little, but that’s not a result of it being a difficult read but rather a dense one, which I don’t believe to be negative.
It’s a brilliant piece of historical fiction and every sentence shows the depth of research that Edward Carey put into the writing process. I interviewed Edward on Babble, and he confessed the book took him 15 years to write, which I think proves my sentiments.
The story is that of Marie Grosholtz, who you definitely know, though probably by the name she took late in her career – Madame Tussaud. We learn about the woman behind a world of fame, infamy and wax, and about the remarkable, traumatic life she led during a tumultuous time in French revolutionary history. The historical layers cover that of the time, as well as that of the individuals, and between the cupboards of Versailles in which Marie (AKA ‘Little’) lived after catching the attention of a young princess, and the heads which fell and were subsequently cast into wax, I feel like I’ve absorbed a library of books just through this one – a testimony to the book’s scope and Edward’s attention to detail.
‘Little’ is dark and eery, sprinkled with tragic humour and the characters are either monsters, saints, or just trying their best to survive the only way they know how – it’s up to us to decide who’s who.
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