Author: Kathleen Benner Duble
Release date: 15th July 2015
Genre: Historical fiction
Target audience: 11+
Publisher: Alma Books
Madame Tussaud’s Apprentice is a story of revolution, friendship and survival. In a time of political turmoil, it is difficult to know who to trust and who to love.
Célie and her friend Algernon are street urchins who pick the pockets of the rich French Parisians. But when the victim of their crime is the king’s brother - Comte D’Artois – it can only lead to a horrible punishment. Célie is rescued by Marie Tussaud and is employed to draw backdrops for the waxwork museum. The mood in France is volatile country and the future is far from certain.
I enjoyed reading about the work of Madame Tussaud. Of course, I (like many) have visited the London attraction and so it was fascinating to learn some of the history behind it. Célie’s education in waxwork was compelling reading.
There is an interesting message in this story about the choice to be violent in revolution. Célie wants change but as the story progresses she comes to realise that violence in any form is abhorrent. Perhaps she is naive to think that change can come about without the populous taking up arms. But history tells us, change can happen through peaceful protest. I like that this book raises these issues especially at a time when many young people feel alienated from British society.
The pace and the plot of the story follow the events of the French revolution. As I was reading it, I found that I was more engaged with the middle when Célie has an active role at Versailles and the conflict of her predicament with the Comte D’Artois. When she is whisked away to Paris, I lost a little interest and it wasn’t until the beheading of King Louis that I really wanted to read on again. (I hardly think that’s a spoiler. Surely everyone knows that is inevitable?!)
Having been to Paris and Versailles so recently, this book was perfectly timed for me to enjoy it. I liked many of the characters: Célie, Maris Tussaud and little Jean-Louis. Madame Tussaud’s Apprentice was a good read.
Source: Review copy from the publisher. Thank you.