LONGLISTED FOR THE INTERNATIONAL DUBLIN LITERARY AWARD 2020 LONGLISTED FOR THE RSL ONDAATJE PRIZE 2019 LONGLISTED FOR THE WALTER SCOTT PRIZE FOR HISTORICAL FICTION 2019 LONGLISTED FOR THE RATHBONES FOLIO PRIZE 2019 SHORTLISTED FOR THE HWA CROWN AWARDS 2019 ‘A startlingly original novel’ — Times, BOOKS OF THE YEAR There is a space between life and death: it's called waxworks. Born in Alsace in 1761, the unsightly, diminutive Marie Grosholtz is quickly nicknamed ‘Little’. Orphaned at the age of six, she finds employmet in Bern, Switzerland, under the charge of reclusive anatomist, Dr Curtius. In time the unlikely pair form an unlikely bond, and together they pursue an unusual passion: the fine art of wax-modelling. Forced to flee their city, the doctor and his protégée head for the seamy streets of Paris where they open an exhibition hall for their uncanny creations. Though revolution approaches, the curious-minded flock to see the wax heads, eager to scrutinise the faces of royalty and reprobates alike. At 'The Cabinet of Doctor Curtius', heads are made, heads are displayed, and a future is built from wax. From the gutters of pre-revolutionary France to the luxury of the Palace of Versailles, from casting the still-warm heads of The Terror to finding something very like love, Little is the unforgettable story of how a ‘bloodstained crumb of a girl’ went on to shape the world... 'Don't miss this eccentric charmer' @MargaretAtwood 'Absolutely brilliant' Susan Hill ‘Rich and engrossing, there is an extraordinary potency to Carey’s material ... A visceral, vivid and moving novel’ GUARDIAN 'In this gloriously gruesome imagining of the girlhood of Marie Tussaud, mistress of wax, fleas will bite, rats will run and heads will roll and roll and roll. Guts’n’gore galore: I bloody loved it' SPECTATOR 'A tale as moving as it is macabre' MAIL ON SUNDAY 'One of the most original historical novels of the year... Macabre, funny, touching and oddly life-affirming, Little is a remarkable achievement' SUNDAY TIMES 'Beautifully published… poignant… absorbing’ LITERARY REVIEW 'Clever and intriguing' DAILY MAIL ‘Marie’s story is fascinating in itself, but Carey’s talent makes her journey a thing of wonder’ NEW YORK TIMES ‘By turns witty, ghoulish, poignant and curiously life-affirming, Little is a historical novel unlike any other’ BBC HISTORY MAGAZINE ‘It is Carey’s uniquely inventive style that makes this novel so completely, wickedly, addictive’ BIG ISSUE 'Edward Carey is one of the strangest writers we are privileged to have in this country’ OBSERVER ‘Carey creates an indelible character in Little, sprinkles idiosyncratic drawings throughout and folds his narrative in cunning ways…’ BBC ‘Full of rich historical detail and beautiful illustrations … a rare treat of a novel that will stay with you long after you turn the final page’ HEAT 'Compulsively readable: so canny and weird and surfeited with the reality of human capacity and ingenuity that I am stymied for comparison. Dickens and David Lynch? Defoe meets Atwood? Judge for yourself...' Gregory Maguire, author of WICKED
Plunging into the macabre chaos of 18th-century Europe in this exquisite novel, Carey (Alva & Irva) conjures the life of the girl who would become Madame Tussaud. Orphaned at seven, "Little" Anne Marie Grosholz finds herself in servitude to Doctor Curtius, an emaciated recluse who fashions body parts from wax for medical research. He teaches the clever Marie his trade which she quickly learns, as she'd already developed an early, acute awareness of physiognomy owing to her gargantuan nose and protruding chin. Curtius soon becomes renowned for his wax portrait heads, but when he and Marie must flee to Paris to avoid their creditors, finding lodgings with a tailor's widow and her son Edmond, Marie is banished to the kitchen by Edmond's jealous mother. Marie has no choice but to find allies outside the widow's household, and after a surprise royal visit to Curtius's workshop, she manages to get herself invited to Versailles to tutor King Louis XVI's sister Elizabeth. But it is 1780, and only a few years later the monarchy is overcome by the Revolution. Marie manages to make it home, but the Paris she knows implodes, and her royal associations land her in trouble. There is nothing ordinary about this book, in which everything animate and inanimate lives, breathes, and remembers. Carey, with sumptuous turns of phrase, fashions a fantastical world that churns with vitality, especially his "Little," a female Candide at once surreal and full of heart.