The French Revolution: It’s one of those historical moments that have spawned as many legends as there are truths. It’s almost like a real life version of Game of Thrones and House of Cards which is the setting of the latest book I have been reviewing; Tussaud by Belinda Lyons- Lee.
The story starts off in picturesque France Though it would be more picturesque if it wasn’t for the mob violence and the public decapitations. Marie Tussaud is recovering from the trauma of almost being made short by a head during the French Revolution. Focusing on making of death masks, the deal she made to avoid the Louis XVI treatment, she is offered the chance to move to London by Philidor, a famous magician, in order to assist in the creation of a wax automaton show.
The show falls apart but Tussaud and her business partner strike a deal with one William Cavendish, an aristocrat who you could politely describe as unique and idiosyncratic. The deal; come to his estate and make a wax automation in the likeness of a long gone girl, in return for the means to make a new show. A simple enough deal but as the story goes forward, and twists and turns amount, Marie Tussad starts to understand that not all is what it seems.
Now Tussaud is obviously a fictional story, but like all good historical fictions it is steeped in fact and research. Marie Tassaud is a real person. She is well known for creating the death masks of numerous victims of the French Terror (the name given to the politically inspired violence following the overthrow of the monarchy).
Her wax museum is considered either a must see when going to London or an expensive tourist trap. Also the background of her character in the book rings true, she was indeed almost a victim of the French Terror. Apparently Welbeck Estate is a real place in the UK and indeed has an underground ball room (though having looked at the modern day photos of said ballroom I couldn’t help but feel a little disappointed).
Though Tussaud is marketed as revolving around Marie Tussaud, it has a good portion revolve around both Philidor and the Duke.The book is written in first person and you’re able to get the point of view of all three of the main characters which provides an added layer to the story. For me the most interesting character was the Duke.
All up Tussaud is a mystery novel based in the aftermath of a very pivotal historical event. Is the book for everyone? Certainly not! However it is by no means terrible. The author Belinda Lyons- Lee certainly put alot of effort into writing a novel which is grounded in fact. I would say the book is more slanted to the teenage and young adult audience.