Madame Tussaud (Hardback)
Her Life and Legacy
Madame Marie Tussaud is known worldwide for the chain of wax museums she started over 200 hundred years ago. Less known is that her original wax models were often of the famous and infamous people she personally knew during and after the French Revolution. These were people like Voltaire, Robespierre, and Napoleon — people who changed the world. Even more, the wax figures were depicted in scenes drawn from the horrors she experienced during the reign of terror in Paris during her early adult years.
This book shows how the traumatic and cataclysmic experiences of Madame Tussaud’s early life became part of her legacy. She created a succession of scenes in wax, telling events as she personally experienced them. Her wax sculptures were visceral. She made them herself, at times from the living person’s head and at other times from the recently guillotined head of a former house guest. As a result, people were drawn to her wax displays in those days because they were the most intense way of experiencing those events themselves.
Madame Tussaud’s story is told through a series of unique and informative stories drawn from an in-depth study of both Madame Tussaud’s life and the dramatic times in which she lived. This narrative style makes learning about history rewarding for both avid history readers and people with a casual interest in this unique story.
Geri Walton’s book includes a great deal of background information, and there are interesting diversions into the stories of people who crossed Madame Tussaud’s path. Overall the book is thorough and detailed. I particularly liked the vivid passages about how the wax death (and life) masks were made and the descriptions of Paris awash with the blood of the guillotined. In the end, though, it is the personality of this extravert, exaggerating, generous and talented woman comes through.Naomi Clifford
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An enjoyable look into the life and times of Madamme Tussaud, whom we all know and love for making wax death masks... I recommend this to anyone who is interested in this lady.NetGalley, Julie Wright
Rating: 5 out of 5 starsNetGalley, Julia Simpson-Urrutia
Picture a talented young woman being forced to sit on a chair with the decapitated head of, oh, say one of her best friends or more enjoyable dining guests from last week in her lap, making a mold of the face so as to be able to render it in wax. Now put a maddened crowd in front of this girl, a crowd that insists on watching, and you get an idea of what kind of pressures Marie Tussaud had to endure and truly, what shaped her in becoming the world's most famous wax sculptor. Geri Walton uncannily knows how to give the reader a fantastic ride. Walton's stupendous research into (you name it) all people and trends that impacted Marie Tussaud's life, which would include the absolutely tumultuous French Revolution, and her ability to render each person or event in a way that will most interest the reader means she (Walton) understands human nature. This is no dry history book. This is the kind of biography that will have the reader sharing intellectual tidbits at barbecues. I, who have taken more than one class on the French Revolution when obtaining my French degrees, was more absorbed by this book than anything I remember reading on the same subject in college. No disrespect is meant to the writer when I say that I had to drop the book in pure terror when reading about The Terror that overtook France. We talk a lot about what the Nazis did during WWII, but The Terror was an example of what people can do to their own population. My hair stood on end. I appreciated the astute assessment of marketing propaganda employed by Curtius, Marie's father, who taught his daughter all he knew. Marie learned, herself, to be a good promoter, which does not mean she was truthful. However, her skill was astounding. I spent hours looking up the figures I was reading about and I can easily see Wellington visiting Tussaud's wax figures to stare at Napoleon for days and days, to contemplate his enemy. I admired Marie Tussaud's survival instinct, her ability to cut her failure of a husband off, and her careful management of resources. What a book! Fantastic.
Rating: 5 out of 5 starsNetGalley, Janis Lauzon
I love historical biographies and really enjoyed this one. Great details and insight how Mme. Tussaud got her start. She had a long and sometimes dangerous life in France, finally settling in England. Her workmanship earned her respect and a certain amount of wealth. The book is entertaining and I liked the pictures at the end. For those who gave ever gone to see wax figures, this book explains the process behind the lifelike figures and why the public is still fascinated by them. I give this book two thumbs up!
This biography was well researched and contained a lot of information that I hadn’t previously read in other books. The author’s attention to detail is evident in the writing. Highly recommend!NetGalley, Cristie Underwood
An interesting book about the woman whose surname sounds familiar to millions of people but whose life is unknown to most of us. The Author does a very good job putting Madame Tussaud against the historic background as she survived the French Revolution, and met most of its key players. Her life in England is well portrayed, including both her wax work and personal problems. At the beginning I thought there was too much history and not enough of her life, however, then I thought that the Author made the right decision to give us the insight into the history of France and Great Britain due to the fact that Madame Tussaud's involvement in wax works was directly linked to the events of her times, especially at the beginning of her career. I found the history of this rather specific craft of creating wax heads and figures truly informative as I had never read anything on this subject before.NetGalley, Beata B. Reviewer
This is an interesting biography, which also gives some context in relation to Madame Tussaud's life (such as the French Revolution).NetGalley, Kristin Jørgensen
I recommend this for those interested in the French Revolution.NetGalley, Lauralee Jacks
This is a really good insight into the woman herself. I didnt realise how far back this story dates, right back to the seventeenth century. It does go off on tangents however a lot of the tangents I enjoyed, the one on the guillotine and beheadings was probably my favoriate (I'm sick in the head clearly), I felt I learnt alot on that.NetGalley, Michelle Sibley
Next time I'm in a city with a Tussauds I will revisit this attraction, I feel it would be a whole new experience after reading this book.
Overall it was an incredibly well-researched book and I would definitely recommend it to anyone wishing to gain more background information about the life and times of Madam Tussaud.NetGalley, Anne Halford
Rating: 5 out of 5 starsNetGalley, Heather Bennett
Madame Tussaud was such a fascinating person and her wax figures still live on today. Geri Walton really did a thorough research and The book is well written.
This was a deep and compelling memoir of the woman behind the famous wax empire that has since spread worldwide. From the time of her childhood in France studying with Dr. Curtius, to living through the French Revolution and the Reign of Terror, to her life and death in Victorian England. Ms. Walton has carefully crafted together the timeline of Madame Tussaud’s life and work from numerous books and articles written about the enigmatic woman.NetGalley, Crystal Matz
This book was really interesting to me because of the background it gives you on her life and how she started making wax figures. It was well written and would be great for any fan of history and Madame Tussaud.NetGalley, Melinda Henning
Rating: 5 out of 5 starsNetGalley, Carol Mason
Madame Tussaud by Geri Walton is truly one of the most interesting books I have read. It is a well researched and written biography of this fascinating woman and the turbulent times in which she lived and practiced her unique profession. I highly recommend it to all readers of biography.
Rating: 5 out of 5 starsNetGalley, Fran Eichenauer
"Madame Tussaud: Her Life and Legacy" by Geri Walton is a well documented history of the French Revolution and the Reign of Terror. Marie's upbringing arguably allowed her to hobnob with royalty but also attend the lively discussions in her "uncle's" residence that included exchanges of ideas between Voltaire, Rousseau, Robespierre and other great thinkers of the time. Madame Tussaud's anecdotes and storytelling are put into perspective by author Walton's careful attention to detail. Walton provides an impressive bibliography as well as photos of many wax figures. "...the human details and their lifelike expressions were unnerving. When you looked at them, they looked back" Kudos to Geri Walton for an excellent, challenging read.
A very readable work, and one that will appeal to those with a deep interest in history as well as casual readers wishing to learn more about the woman behind the modern museums.NetGalley, reviewed by Nicki Markus
This is a very readable work, and one that will appeal to those with a deep interest in history as well as casual readers wishing to learn more about the woman behind the modern museums.Nicki J. Markus
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Well written biography of one of the most interesting women who navigated the French Revolution, the Napoleonic beginnings and Victorian England. A gifted artisan and an astute judge of human character, she seems to have been respected by both aristocrat and revolutionary firebrand alike. Keeping her eyes on the prize while not losing her head kept her grounded. Her only failing was in her choice of mate. I learned so much more about the times in spite of the warnings that Madame Tussaud had a selective and somewhat cloudy memory while not in full command of the facts..lol. I truly enjoyed this book.NetGalley, reviewed by Donna Pingry