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Madame Tussaud (Hardback)

Her Life and Legacy

P&S History Social History Women of History Biographies

By Geri Walton
Imprint: Pen & Sword History
Pages: 220
ISBN: 9781526734082
Published: 13th May 2019


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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.

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.

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.

NetGalley, Michelle Sibley

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 stars

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.

NetGalley, Heather Bennett

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 stars

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.

NetGalley, Carol Mason

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

"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.

NetGalley, Fran Eichenauer

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.

Read the full review here

Nicki J. Markus

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

About Geri Walton

Geri Walton has long been fascinated by people from history and curious about what they did and why. This interest encouraged her to receive a BA in history from San Jose State University, where she graduated summa cum laude. She is particularly interested in European history of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, which has resulted in her website and blog at www.geriwalton.com. You can find her on Instagram or Twitter at @18thCand19thC. Geri is also author of Marie Antoinette’s Confidante: The Rise and Fall of the Princesse de Lamballe.

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