My studies of European history this year have lead me to update my review of Michelle Moran’s book. Here’s my full review:
Filled with historical details, some lovely (a lot of fashion info), some so gruesome I had to skip forward, Michelle Moran paints a picture of the strong willed, independent Mary, who later becomes Madame Tussaud. I felt the history angle was much stronger then the characterization. The reason I gave it 3 stars instead of 2 is because of the undeniable fact that I now know so much more about the French Revolution than I learned from high school history classes and historical movies. Fiction places you in the thick of things and carves indelible images into your memory. Unfortunately, most of the memories of this book will be really horrible and disgusting.
I am now studying European history, and the more I study about the French Revolution, the angrier I get at Michelle Moran. She depicts the royal family as ignorant of the awful life conditions of the third estate – those who have no title nor belong to the clergy. After generations of “taxation in advance” – a scheme started by Louis XIV – the people have been driven to poverty and starvation. The picture Ms. Moran paints of current kind Louis XVI is of a monarch who was not aware of his people’s deplorable conditions, even though everyone else knew, including his charitable sister who helped the poor. Supposedly, no one dared to tell him nor Mary Antoinette the truth. I think it impossible for live in a palace made of gold and never ever see the truth when one ventures outside (even with a closed carriage, etc.). And if the king was really so obtuse, then he should have been portrayed as an idiot, nor a poor victim. And he must have been stupid to let himself be caught and beheaded.
OK – rant over. I’m sure Michelle would be happy to know her book is “in my head.”