Sunday, 21 October 2018

Book review : Little - Edward Carey

If it wasn't for a quote from Margaret Atwood on the front cover, there would be no mention of the famous person hiding behind the unassuming title of Edward Carey's Little : Anne Marie Grosholtz, who would ultimately become world famous as Madame Tussaud.

Born in Alsace in 1761, a few months after her father's death during the Seven Years War, she moved with her mother to a new life with the doctor Philippe Curtius, a skilled but artless man who enjoyed recreating body parts and, ultimately, death masks and waxworks of living people. Marie, or Little, as she comes to be known, helps out but, after following her new master to Paris, is relegated to life as a barely tolerated, live-in servant, when he moves in with a rather harsh widow.

Marie finds herself in Versailles, as a companion and sculpting tutor for the princess Elisabeth, for several years, but times are changing in Paris and the revolution brings about many differences. I found this section of the book fascinating, with the riots and chaos going on outside of The Monkey House, where the family lives. Marie's horror at having to make casts of numerous severed heads is easy to understand, along with the sense of desperation and excitement pushing everyone on. Her time in prison gives a real sense of hopelessness and made me realise how little I knew about Paris at the time.

When she is released to what remains of her home, things seem desperate, but, as she always seems to do, she picks herself up and recreates a sense of hope and possibility when everything seems to be in ruins. Unhappily married, she sets off for a new life - and success - in London, along with one of her sons, and the rest, as they say, is history !

Having visited Mme Tussaud's in London several times, I was completely unaware of the hectic life of its founder. They could (and maybe should) set up an exhibition of her life and times, as there is plenty to cover, although I'm sure most visitors just want to have their photo taken next to the latest range of A-listers.

It was interesting to learn that the author of the novel, Edward Carey, worked for a short time at Madame Tussaud's in London, and this is undoubtedly where he was inspired to present the life and times of the woman behind the place that most of us have visited or at least know of. It's a fascinating read.

star rating : 4.5/5

RRP : £10.99

  • Paperback: 430 pages
  • Publisher: Aardvark Bureau (4 Oct. 2018)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 9781910709566
  • ISBN-13: 978-1910709566
  • ASIN: 1910709565
  • Product Dimensions: 13.5 x 21.6 cm

Disclosure : I received a review copy of the book.


  1. What an interesting cover and story, not sure its my kind of books xx

  2. I do love a good book and this one is perfect. Wonderful story

  3. Thanks for the review this book seems very interesting ill have to give it a try! :)

  4. I love historical fiction, and this book sounds perfect for me. I've read reviews of this book, and have added to my ever growing must-read list.

    1. I wasn't sure what I'd think of it but it's interesting ! :)

  5. Sounds very interesting. I'm wondering how much is real from the story.


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