"An amazing achievement. . . A compulsively readable novel, 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 Margaret Atwood? Judge for yourself." —Gregory Maguire, New York Times-bestselling author of Wicked
The wry, macabre, unforgettable tale of an ambitious orphan in Revolutionary Paris, befriended by royalty and radicals, who transforms herself into the legendary Madame Tussaud.
In 1761, a tiny, odd-looking girl named Marie is born in a village in Switzerland. After the death of her parents, she is apprenticed to an eccentric wax sculptor and whisked off to the seamy streets of Paris, where they meet a domineering widow and her quiet, pale son. Together, they convert an abandoned monkey house into an exhibition hall for wax heads, and the spectacle becomes a sensation. As word of her artistic talent spreads, Marie is called to Versailles, where she tutors a princess and saves Marie Antoinette in childbirth. But outside the palace walls, Paris is roiling: The revolutionary mob is demanding heads, and . . . at the wax museum, heads are what they do.
In the tradition of Gregory Maguire's Wicked and Erin Morgenstern's The Night Circus, Edward Carey's Little is a darkly endearing cavalcade of a novel—a story of art, class, determination, and how we hold on to what we love.
APPLE BOOKS REVIEW
Expect the unexpected when you delve into Little, a marvelously inventive novel from author and playwright Edward Carey. Dotted with Carey’s evocative illustrations, the book tells the extraordinary life story of Madame Marie Tussaud (otherwise known as “Little”), whose wax-sculpture artistry flourished amid the bloodshed of the French Revolution. The result is macabre, imaginative, and endlessly surprising. It’s a darkly funny and intoxicating tribute to Tussaud’s unlikely, wild, and circuitous ascent from scullery maid to international icon.
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. \n
Little is Actually a Big Story
This was a fascinating read. Amazing characters completely brought to life.