Madame Tussaud’s tall tale

I started reading Little by Edward Carey without knowing what it was about. Soon it emerged that it’s a fictionalisation of the life of Madame Tussaud based on her memoirs. It is typical of a revolutionary French narrative in that it involves a exploited child orphan, the beautiful disarray of Paris at the time, and finally: no shortage of chance encounters with significant historical figures that begin to stretch the reader’s credulity.

I haven’t finished the book yet but the young orphan has already had personal interactions with:

  • Jean-Jaques Rousseau
  • Voltaire
  • Louis XVI
  • Élisabeth of France

I’m sure that Madame Tussaud had a fascinating life that brushed up against the roiling world events of the time, but we have to suppose much of her memoir was embellished quite incredibly. Perhaps the artisan who taught her wax-working was at the Bastille, but perhaps she did not sit on the roofs of Versailles with the disguised King of France.

I’ll probably just enjoy the ride for now, and get to the bottom of it afterwards.