Author: Edward Carey
Genre: Historical fiction
Publisher: Aardvark Bureau, Gallic
Release Date: 4th October (UK)
Summary: from Amazon
The wry, macabre, unforgettable tale of an ambitious orphan in Revolutionary Paris, befriended by royalty and radicals alike, who transforms herself into the legendary Madame Tussaud. In 1761, a tiny, odd-looking girl named Marie is born in a village in Alsace. After the death of her parents, she is apprenticed to an eccentric wax sculptor and whisked off to the seamy streets of Paris, where they meet a domineering widow and her quiet, pale son. Together, they convert an abandoned monkey house into an exhibition hall for wax heads, and the spectacle becomes a sensation. As word of her artistic talent spreads, Marie is called to Versailles, where she tutors a princess and saves Marie Antoinette in childbirth. But outside the palace walls, Paris is roiling: The revolutionary mob is demanding heads, and . . . at the wax museum, heads are what they do. Edward Carey’s Little is a wonder – the incredible story of a ‘blood-stained crumb of a girl’ who went on to shape the world.
As soon as I heard about Little, I knew I wanted to read it. I have visited Madame Tussauds in London but I never considered who was behind it’s creation. It turns out Marie Tussaud née Grosholtz had a genuinely fascinating life which has been fictionalised here with such skill and creativity by Edward Carey.
Almost immediately I knew Little was going to be an unusual and special book. It is so delightfully quirky and strange and the author’s writing is an ideal match for telling this fantastical tale. It must be noted straight away that Little is filled with amazing illustrations by the author. The beautiful gothic drawings add yet another dimension to the story and even when the drawings themselves are quite sinister in nature they still have an undeniable charm. I have to say that the illustrations really did add so much to my enjoyment of the book.
The story totally belongs to Marie but there is also so much else going on. The French Revolution is viscerally described in a way that is so evocative of the time period and setting. Every person Marie meets is vividly described whether they are a famous face or not, a prince or pauper. I loved Marie as a character and I actually felt quite protective of her throughout her story. She is a person that appears forgettable and meek but underneath it she has an iron will which made me root for her even more.
I honestly can’t recommend this book highly enough. It is a relatively long book but it honestly flies by as the reader becomes immersed in the life of this unusual and intriguing person. The writing is unique and exciting whilst the illustrations bring the book to life so beautifully. I really don’t think anyone would regret being this book – it is a fascinating story about a fascinating woman.
Little is out today!
I received a copy of the book from the publisher. My review is my own honest opinion.