Thursday, August 7, 2014

Review: Madame Tussaud's Apprentice By Kathleen Benner Duble

Madame Tussaud's Apprentice: An Untold Story Of Love In The French Revolution

By Kathleen Benner Duble

Blurb: 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.

Genres: Young Adult, Historical Fiction, Romance, Realistic Fiction 

Publication Date: July 31, 2014

Pages: 224

Series: N/A

My Rating: 4 stars

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review via Edelweiss.

Madame Tussaud's Apprentice has its flaws. Mainly how the romance between Celie and Algernon turned out, but I'll get to that later. Still, this book sucked me in, something that no book had been able to do in three weeks. For that alone, I think this book deserves a good rating, flaws aside.

I will admit that when I started this book, however, I didn't automatically like it. Celie was rather whiny and pessimistic, and while usually I would able to put up with it, (since she doesn't exactly have a happy existence living on the streets of Paris) in this case it came to a point where I got really annoyed with her. I get that her life was crappy, but that was literally almost all she talked about. I felt like I was getting constantly hit over the head with the sorrows of her life. Thankfully, she got a lot less whiny after the first seventy pages or so, and by the end of the book I actually liked her a lot. I thought her relationship with Madame Tussaud and how it grew was very nice to read about, and her views on royalty, and how they changed throughout the story, also kept me interested. She had a rebellious streak to her, and wasn't afraid to speak her mind. I ended up enjoying reading about her a lot.

The setting also fascinated me. There are certain points in history that intrigue me, and the French Revolution is one of them. It's so sad and bleak on so many levels. I loved that this book took place both before and during the Revolution; seeing it through Celie's eyes made it a lot more real than any history textbook ever managed to do for me.

Celie's journey from thief, to Madame Tussaud's apprentice, to practically her daughter, was a delight to read about. The plot and actual history intertwined very well, rather than having the time period just be a backdrop for the story. I barely put the book down, because the plot was so engaging.

The romance, however, was definitely not the book's strong suit, which is surprising seeing as it is actually mentioned in the title. I didn't feel like Celie and Algernon worked together in the first place. And then Algernon went and became a huge jerk, and I thought that (view spoiler)

Despite that one rather big issue I had with the book, I still ended up really enjoying it. It really brought the French Revolution to life, and I think that's a sign that Madame Tussaud's Apprentice was a superb historical fiction novel.

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