Author: Kathleen Benner Duble
Publisher: Merit Press
Publication Date: August 1, 2014
Source: I received a complimentary copy in exchange for a honest review.
In 1789, with the starving French people on the brink of revolution, orphaned Celie Rosseau, an amazing artist and a very clever thief, runs wild with her protector, Algernon, trying to join the idealistic freedom fighters of Paris. But when she is caught stealing from none other than the king's brother and the lady from the waxworks, Celie must use her drawing talent to buy her own freedom or die for her crimes. Forced to work for Madame Tussaud inside the opulent walls that surround Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette, Celie is shocked to find that the very people she imagined to be monsters actually treat her with kindness. But the thunder of revolution still rolls outside the gates, and Celie is torn between the cause of the poor and the safety of the rich. When the moment of truth arrives, will she turn on Madame Tussaud or betray the boy she loves? From the hidden garrets of the starving poor to the jeweled halls of Versailles, "Madame Tussaud's Apprentice" is a sweeping story of danger, intrigue, and young love, set against one of the most dramatic moments in history.
I like a bit of historical fiction once in a while, partly because I feel like I'm learning something. This one was set in the French Revolution and focused on the life of Madame Tussaud, of the famous wax museum.
Our heroine is Celie, a young thief. Celie lost her family to the cruelty of the upper classes and definitely has an axe to grind there. At the start of the story, she is homeless in Paris, living in an alley with her friend Algernon and a bunch of other homeless, stealing to survive. However, Celie has a talent for drawing and a photographic memory, which result in her being saved my Manon Tussaud. Celie is obviously good-hearted, despite being a thief. However, she is very impulsive and I thought a bit naive for someone who lived on the streets.
Her best friend and giant crush is Algernon. This is where the story fell down a bit for me. Algernon didn't really appeal to me. I couldn't handle his hot-and-cold attitude towards Celie and sometimes he treated her really awful, mainly out of jealousy.
I enjoyed the historical aspect. I brought back a lot of my French Revolution history, which I haven't taken since high school. I especially appreciated the author's note at the end, explain what was historically accurate and what was changed or added to the story. I also enjoyed the parts where the process of making the wax figures was explained. I love learning how things are created.
Overall, despite my reservations about Algernon, Madame Tussaud's Apprentice was an enjoyable read that let me brush up on my French history.
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