Madame Tussaud: A Novel of the French Revolution, p.1Michelle Moran
ALSO BY MICHELLE MORAN
The Heretic Queen
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously.
Copyright © 2011 by Michelle Moran
All rights reserved.
Published in the United States by Crown Publishers, an imprint of the Crown Publishing Group, a division of Random House, Inc., New York.
CROWN and the Crown colophon are registered trademarks of Random House, Inc.
Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
Madame Tussaud : a novel of the French revolution / Michelle Moran.—1st ed.
1. Tussaud, Marie, 1761–1850. 2. Wax modelers—France—Fiction.
3. France—History—Revolution, 1789–1799—Fiction. I. Title.
Map by David Cain
Jacket design by Jennifer O’Connor
Jacket photography by Richard Jenkins Photography (woman);
© Rudy Sulgan/CORBIS (background); Dorling Kindersley (ring)
For my editors
Heather Lazare, Matthew Carter, and Allison McCabe
À tout seigneur tout honneur
Other Books by This Author
Time Line for the French Revolution
Prologue: London: 1812
Chapter 1 - Paris: December 12, 1788
Chapter 2 - December 21, 1788
Chapter 3 - January 16, 1789
Chapter 4 - January 30, 1789
Chapter 5 - February 3, 1789
Chapter 6 - February 4, 1789
Chapter 7 - March 28, 1789
Chapter 8 - April 2, 1789
Chapter 9 - April 3, 1789
Chapter 10 - April 7, 1789
Chapter 11 - April 9, 1789
Chapter 12 - April 12, 1789
Chapter 13 - April 29, 1789
Chapter 14 - April 30, 1789
Chapter 15 - May 1, 1789
Chapter 16 - May 3, 1789
Chapter 17 - May 4, 1789
Chapter 18 - May 5, 1789
Chapter 19 - May 8, 1789
Chapter 20 - May 29, 1789
Chapter 21 - June 4, 1789
Chapter 22 - July 3, 1789
Chapter 23 - July 11, 1789
Chapter 24 - July 12, 1789
Chapter 25 - July 13, 1789
Chapter 26 - July 14, 1789
Chapter 27 - July 15, 1789
Chapter 28 - July 16, 1789
Chapter 29 - July 18, 1789
Chapter 30 - July 22, 1789
Chapter 31 - September 7, 1789
Chapter 32 - October 10, 1789
Chapter 33 - October 5, 1789
Chapter 34 - October 7, 1789
Chapter 35 - October 20, 1789
Chapter 36 - December 25, 1789
Chapter 37 - 1790
Chapter 38 - April–June 1791
Chapter 39 - June 21, 1791
Chapter 40 - June 22, 1791
Chapter 41 - September 14, 1791
Chapter 42 - November 29, 1791
Chapter 43 - April 20, 1792
Chapter 44 - June 19, 1792
Chapter 45 - July 6, 1792
Chapter 46 - July 25–August 14, 1792
Chapter 47 - August 28, 1792
Chapter 48 - August 29, 1792–September 2, 1792
Chapter 49 - September 2, 1792
Chapter 50 - September 21, 1792–January 17, 1793
Chapter 51 - January 20–21, 1793
Chapter 52 - January 25, 1793
Chapter 53 - January 31, 1793
Chapter 54 - February 17, 1793
Chapter 55 - April 7, 1793
Chapter 56 - June 1, 1793–July 5, 1793
Chapter 57 - July 1793
Chapter 58 - August–October 1793
Chapter 59 - November 6–8, 1793
Chapter 60 - March–May 1794
Chapter 61 - May 1794
Chapter 62 - June 15, 1794–July 1794
Chapter 63 - July 28, 1794
Epilogue: England: August 11, 1802
After the Revolution
TIME LINE for the FRENCH REVOLUTION
May 5, 1789 The Estates-General meets at Versailles, bringing together all three estates: the clergy, the nobility, and the commoners
June 17, 1789 The Third Estate, made up of commoners, declares itself the National Assembly
July 14, 1789 Fall of the Bastille
August 27, 1789 Declaration of the Rights of Man and Citizen is adopted
October 5–6, 1789 Parisian women march on Versailles and force the royal family to move to Paris
October 1, 1791 Meeting of the Legislative Assembly
April 20, 1792 France declares war on Austria
August 10, 1792 After the storming of the Tuileries Palace, the royal family takes refuge with the Legislative Assembly
September 2–6, 1792 The September Massacres
September 21, 1792 The monarchy is abolished
January 21, 1793 Louis XVI is executed
February 1, 1793 France declares war on Great Britain
April 6, 1793 The Committee of Public Safety is created with the intent of rooting out all “traitors” and anyone deemed a threat to the Revolution
October 5, 1793 The Revolutionary Calendar is adopted, with Year One beginning on September 22, 1792
October 16, 1793 Queen Marie Antoinette is executed
May 7, 1794 Cult of the Supreme Being proclaimed by Robespierre
June 8, 1794 Robespierre leads the celebration of the Festival of the Supreme Being
June 10, 1794 The Law of 22 Prairial is adopted, encouraging citizens to denounce anyone who might be a counterrevolutionary
Marie Antoinette: Queen of France
Comte d’Artois: Youngest brother of King Louis XVI
Baron de Besenval: Commander of the Swiss Guard; father of Abrielle de Besenval
Henri Charles: Inventor, balloonist, and showman
Jacques Charles: Mathematician, inventor, and balloonist
Philippe Curtius: Wax modeler and showman
Georges Danton: Revolutionary and journalist
Jacques-Louis David: Painter
Camille Desmoulins: Lawyer and revolutionary journalist
Lucile Duplessis: Young revolutionary engaged to Camille Desmoulins
Princesse Élisabeth: Sister of King Louis XVI
Anna Grosholtz: Mother of Marie Grosholtz
Edmund Grosholtz: Marie’s eldest brother and captain in the Swiss Guard
Isabel Grosholtz: Wife of Johann Grosholtz and mother of Paschal
Johann Grosholtz: Marie’s second-eldest brother and soldier in the Swiss Guard
Marie Grosholtz: Curtius’s “niece”; wax modeler and show-woman
Wolfgang Grosholtz: Marie’s youngest brother and soldier in the Swiss Guard
Thomas Jefferson: American ambassador to France
Marquis de Lafayette: French aristocrat and American Revolutionary War hero
Louis-Charles: The dauphin; first son of King Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette
Louis-Joseph: Second son of King Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette
Louis the XVI: King of France
Jean-Paul Marat: Swiss lawyer and journalist
Comte de Mirabeau: Revolutionary and journalist
Duc d’Orléans: Cousin of King Louis XVI who later changes his name to Philippe Égalité
Comte de Provence: Eldest brother of King Louis XVI
Maximilien Robespierre: Lawyer from Arras, revolutionary
Jean-Jacques Rousseau: Philosopher and writer
Marquis de Sade: Criminal and writer
Princesse Marie-Thérèse: Daughter of King Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette
THE YEAR IS 1788, AND QUEEN MARIE ANTOINETTE’S POPULARITY is on the decline. Food shortages are widespread throughout her kingdom, caused in large part by the unpredictable weather, which has destroyed most harvests, leaving the French to look to other countries for help. Now, the coldest winter in living memory has settled in, and unless food is found quickly, many thousands will perish.
The quotations at the beginning of most chapters have been excerpted from scandal sheets, newspapers, and speakers contemporary to the time, while each character in this book is based on a person who lived—and in many cases died—during France’s Revolution. All of the major events in this novel took place.
WHEN SHE WALKS THROUGH THE DOOR OF MY EXHIBITION, everything disappears: the sound of the rain against the windows, the wax models, the customers, even the children. This is a face I have not seen in twenty-one years, and immediately I step back, wondering whether I have conjured her from my past.
“What is it?” Henri asks. He has seen my eyes widen and follows my gaze to the figure near the door. The woman is in her sixties, but there is something about her—her clothes, her walk, perhaps her French features—that sets her apart. “Do you know her?”
“I—I’m not sure,” I say. But this is a lie. Even after so many years, there is no mistaking those hands. They shaped a queen’s destiny and enraged a nation. At once, my years at the court of Versailles are as near to me as though they had happened yesterday, and I am no longer standing in my London exhibition but in a great mirrored hall watching the courtiers in their fine silk culottes and diamond aigrettes. I can smell the jasmine from the queen’s private gardens and hear the laughter in the king’s marble chambers.
“Who is she?” Henri asks.
This time I whisper, “I believe it is Rose Bertin.”
Henri stares. “Marie Antoinette’s dressmaker?”
I nod at him. “Yes.”
The woman crosses the room, and it is only when she is directly in front of us that I am certain about who she is. She is dressed in a pelisse fashionable among women half her age, and the feather in her hat is an extraordinary shade of blue. Outside, a young man is waiting at her coach. Passersby will suspect that he is her son, but anyone who has ever been acquainted with her will know better.
“Marie, do you remember me?” she asks.
I hesitate, letting the weight of our pasts hang between us for a moment. Then I reply, “You know I never forget a face, Rose.”
“Mon Dieu. You haven’t changed at all! Your voice, your eyes—” She glances down at my dress, cotton in plain black. “Your sense of style.”
“Your unbelievable pretentiousness.”
Rose gives a throaty laugh. “What? Did you think I would lose that with my looks?”
I smile, since Rose was never a beauty.
“And is this—”
“Henri,” she repeats with real affection, and perhaps she is remembering the first time they met, in the Salon de Cire. “Did Marie ever tell you how she survived our Revolution after you and I left? For twenty years, I have wanted to know that story …”
My breath comes quick, and there’s a tightness in my chest. Who would want to remember that now? We are in London, a world away from Versailles. I look at Henri, who is honest when he says, “I doubt anyone has ever learned the half of it, Madame.”
DECEMBER 12, 1788
ALTHOUGH IT IS MID-DECEMBER AND EVERYONE WITH SENSE is huddled near a fire, more than two dozen women are pressed together in Rose Bertin’s shop, Le Grand Mogol. They are heating themselves by the handsome bronze lamps, but I do not go inside. These are women of powdered poufs and ermine cloaks, whereas I am a woman of ribbons and wool. So I wait on the street while they shop in the warmth of the queen’s favorite store. I watch from outside as a girl picks out a showy pink hat. It’s too pale for her skin, but her mother nods and Rose Bertin claps her hands eagerly. She will not be so eager when she notices me. I have come here every month for a year with the same request. But this time I am certain Rose will agree, for I am prepared to offer her something that only princes and murderers possess. I don’t know why I didn’t think of it before.
I stamp my feet on the slick cobblestones of the Rue Saint-Honoré. My breath appears as a white fog in the morning air. This is the harshest winter in memory, and it has come on the heels of a poor summer harvest. Thousands will die in Paris, some of the cold, others of starvation. The king and queen have gifted the city as much firewood as they can spare from Versailles. In thanks, the people have built an obelisk made entirely of snow; it is the only monument they can afford. I look down the street, expecting to see the fish sellers at their carts. But even the merchants have fled the cold, leaving nothing but the stink of the sea behind them.
When the last customer exits Le Grand Mogol, I hurry inside. I shake the rain from my cloak and inhale the warm scent of cinnamon from the fire. As always, I am in awe of what Rose Bertin has accomplished in such a small space. Wide, gilded mirrors give the impression that the shop is larger than it really is, and the candles flickering from the chandeliers cast a burnished glow across the oil paintings and embroidered settees. It’s like entering a comtesse’s salon, and this is the effect we have tried for in my uncle’s museum. Intimate rooms where the nobility will not feel out of place. Although I could never afford the bonnets on these shelves—let alone the silk dresses of robin’s-egg blue or apple green—I come here to see the new styles so that I can copy them later. After all, that is our exhibition’s greatest attraction. Women who are too poor to travel to Versailles can see the royal family in wax, each of them wearing the latest fashions.
“Madame?” I venture, closing the door behind me.
Rose Bertin turns, and her high-pitched welcome tells me that she expects another woman in ermine. When I emerge from the shadows in wool, her voice drops. “Mademoiselle Grosholtz,” she says, disappointed. “I gave you my answer last month.” She crosses her arms over her chest. Everything about Rose Bertin is large. Her hips, her hair, the satin bows that cascade down the sides of her dress.
“Then perhaps you’ve changed your mind,” I say quickly. “I know you have the ear of the queen. They say that there’s no one else she trusts more.”
“And you’re not the only one begging favors of me,” she snaps.
“But we’re good patrons.”
“Your uncle bought two dresses from me.”
“We would buy more if business was better.” This isn’t a lie. In eighteen days I will be twenty-eight, but there is nothing of value I own in this world except the wax figures that I’ve created for my uncle’s exhibition. I am an inexpensive niece to maintain. I don’t ask for any of the embellishments in Le Journal des Dames, or for pricey chemise gowns trimmed in pearls. But if I had the livres, I would spend them in dressing the figures of our museum. There is no need for me to wear gemstones and lace, but our patrons come to the Salon de Cire to see the finery of kings. If I could, I would gather up every silk fan
Rose’s lips twitch upward. Although Minister of Fashion is an insult the papers use to criticize her influence over Marie Antoinette, it’s not far from the truth, and she knows this. She hesitates. It is one thing to have your name in the papers, but to be immortalized in wax … That is something reserved only for royals and criminals, and she is neither. “So what would you have me say?” she asks slowly.
My heart beats quickly. Even if the queen dislikes what I’ve done—and she won’t, I know she won’t, not when I’ve taken such pains to get the blue of her eyes just right—the fact that she has personally come to see her wax model will change everything. Our exhibition will be included in the finest guidebooks to Paris. We’ll earn a place in every Catalog of Amusements printed in France. But most important, we’ll be associated with Marie Antoinette. Even after all of the scandals that have attached themselves to her name, there is only good business to be had by entertaining Their Majesties. “Just tell her that you’ve been to the Salon de Cire. You have, haven’t you?”
“Of course.” Rose Bertin is not a woman to miss anything. Even a wax show on the Boulevard du Temple. “It was attractive.” She adds belatedly, “In its way.”
“So tell that to the queen. Tell her I’ve modeled the busts of Voltaire, Rousseau, Benjamin Franklin. Tell her there will be several of her. And you.”
Rose is silent. Then finally, she says, “I’ll see what I can do.”
DECEMBER 21, 1788
What is the Third Estate? Everything.
—ABBÉ SIEYÈS, PAMPHLETEER
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