Friday, December 23, 2011

Guest Post & Giveaway with Michelle Moran, Author of Madame Tussaud

Revolutionary or Royalist?

This December 1st marked the 250th anniversary of Marie Grosholtz’s birth. And while that name may not be immediately recognizable, Marie’s married name - Madame Tussaud - is probably one of the most famous in French history. It comes as a surprise to many people that the name behind the famous wax museums actually belonged to a real woman. Born in 1761, Marie grew up in a middle-class family on the Boulevard du Temple in Paris. As the daughter of a prominent wax artist who had friends in every walk of life, her family entertained impoverished young lawyers and hobnobbed with royals like the Duc d’Orléans. It was a rich and incredibly varied existence for Marie on the Boulevard. One day she might be dressed in a towering white pouf for a visit with the queen, while the next she might be working in a dirty artist’s apron. She knew how to curtsy and how to spice venison for stew, and was as comfortable in her uncle’s Tuesday evening salons as she was in his workshop, where she modeled wax figures of the rich and famous (and sometimes infamous) for their museum.

Marie in her workshop

But when discontent began to spread throughout Paris, evidenced by the heated debates which took  place in her family’s weekly salons, Marie had a choice to make. Would she side with the revolutionaries who were calling for fair taxation and an end to nobility, or would she support the royal family whose patronage had turned her Parisian museum into a must-see event for both French and foreigners alike?

While writing the book, I tried to imagine what I would have done in Marie’s place. I imagined that I was an acquaintance of Marie Antoinette’s, and that I was good friends with the king’s sister, Madame Elisabeth. As the Revolution gathers support from the masses, I witness firsthand the panic gripping the Palace of Versailles. At first, the king dismisses the uprising as a few discontented rabble-rousers. But as the protests becomes more violent, he begins to realize that this is something serious – something dangerous, in fact. Still, no one around him is telling him the truth. Not about the anger, or the violence, or even the state of his own treasury. Should I risk my place at court to speak up? If so, would he even believe me? And even if he did, what would it change at this late stage? There are also my three brothers to consider, all of whom are employed in the king’s Swiss Guard. Yet for all of my royal ties, I can see the revolutionaries’ point as well. People are starving in the streets, jobs are scarce, yet the rich are exempt from taxation.

So do I wear the black and white cockade to symbolize my support of the Bourbons, or do I wear the red, white and blue for revolution? It turns out that Marie did both. As the Revolution gained steam, anyone dressed in clothing that was deemed too “fancy” was subject to arrest. To be seen in public without a tricolor cockade meant literally risking your life. And at a time when nearly 40,000 people were guillotined (more than 80% were commoners), execution was a very real threat. So while Marie kept her ties with the royal family – even when it was dangerous to do so – she was also a very public (and unintentionally influential) figure in the French Revolution.

I can’t imagine the horrors Madame Tussaud lived through during this time, but I can empathize with the very difficult choices she eventually made in an attempt to survive. I didn’t always agree with them, but Madame Tussaud is - without a doubt - one of the strongest women I will ever write about.

Thank you so much to Michelle for guest posting on The Eclectic Reader.

To celebrate the 27th December release of Madame Tussaud in paperback I'm thrilled to offer readers a chance to win a signed copy of Madame Tussaud and the very cute Marie Antoinette earrings.

Want to know more about Michelle and her work? ~ Visit her website or her blog, History Buff

1 signed paperback copy of MADAME TUSSAUD as well as a pair of Marie Antoinette cupcake earrings. US only sorry

Leave a comment regarding Michelle's guest post and don't forget your email address.

+1 for followers of my blog (mention in your comment)
+2 post about this give-away on twitter or your blog & leave a link.

Ends Jan 6th 2012 and the winner will be announced on this blog. Good luck everyone!


  1. Ohhhhhhh this sounds WONDERFUL!!! I was just actually at one of their museum's in Las Vegas and LOVED it!! Wow! This book would be AMAZING to read!! Such history!! Thanks for the chance and Merry Christmas!! (Oh and PS ... I am a follower!) :):):):):):):):):):):)

  2. I really like Michelle's books and would love to read this one.

    I was lucky enough to visit Madame Tussaud's in London many years ago and enjoyed the experience.

    I think one of the good things is that they continually change a number of their displays to showcase new people in the limelight.

    Thanks for the giveaway and if it is open worldwide, please enter me.

    I Follow via GFC - buddyt

    Carol T

    buddytho {at} gmail DOT com

  3. This novel sounds wonderful. Revolutionary France is such an exciting era. And, I know from reading other books by Ms. Moran, that this will be a great read. Thanks for the giveaway.

    Google Follower


  4. I think that people in that era did have to do what was necessary to survive and none can blame them for it. If wearing a tri color brocade and dressing down was the key to survival then do what needs be done.

    Thank you
    I follow
    kaiminani at gmail dot com

  5. Ok I LOVE historical fiction - because I learn about things I didn't know before. And to think about thing things Michelle talked about in her post - what would you do when your life was at stake is amazing. My 12 year daughter - an aspiring author - wants to write historical fiction because she loves to learn about the past. How cool is that!

    I follow :)

    themgowl at gmail dot com

  6. I love historical fiction, especially when it comes with a twist--the French Revolution through the eyes of someone unexpected, like Madame Tussaud. Did keeping ties with the royal family work? Did she get to keep her head?

    +1 GFC follower
    +2 Sidebar:

    whatinabox at gmail dot com

  7. The French Revolution has always fascinated me, because it was complete pandemonium in France at that time. No one was safe, and the people really did have power in their hands, even though they could be easily manipulated and such. How Madame managed to stay on both sides is mind blowing and she had to be lucky too.

    Enjoy your writing and know this book must be excellent. Thanks for the contest :)

    +1 old school follower.

  8. I know next to nothing about this person...sounds like a great book!

  9. I have seen this book everywhere, it seems like everyone is reading it :)

    I had no idea Madame Tussaud was actually a real person. Can you imagine living in France during that period of time? Great idea for a book and looking forward to reading it!

    +1 I'm a happy Follower!

  10. Oh Yeah I'm glad I'm not too late.Please enter me in your giveaway.I love that story.The interview really gave me a new interest in this interesting woman.

  11. Oh yes, I'm also one of your new followers.I enjoyed my visit.Please drop by any time to visit me.Stay as long as you like.

  12. I will mention you in my next blog My Dear.

  13. find me here or better yet on my blog.


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