Little is an unusual story of a determined young girl who makes a life for herself against all odds. After her father dies, Marie (Little) and her mom go to live with a reclusive and peculiar doctor, Curtius who creates objects out of wax. When Marie’s mother dies, she stays on as his apprentice. The tides turn financially for the doctor and he loses his funding from the hospital, so the unlikely twosome head to Paris. With the help of a friend, they find housing and move in with a tailor’s widow and her odd son. The widow is cruel to Marie and Marie struggles to continue working with Curtius and learn all she can about making wax heads, and to develop a friendship with the widow’s son. Curtius finds it difficult to stand up to the widow and enjoys the attention he is getting from her. When the home becomes too small for this quirky bunch, they move to an abandoned monkey house and together they create a wax head exhibit for the public. Marie is skillful at the art of wax figures and she is invited to live at the Palace and tend to Elizabeth, the Princess of Versailles. During the French Revolution in 18th century Paris, after spending some time in the palace with the royal family, Marie is sent back to the eccentric doctor and the cruel widow, but she is determined to find her freedom and independence. Her perseverance and commitment lead her to becoming the famed Madame Tussaud.
Author Edward Carey does a fantastic job developing unforgettable characters with vivid description and charming drawings throughout the book. I truly enjoyed Marie (Little) and her adventures, admired her perseverance and strength when faced with cruelty, setbacks and loss. She was spirited and full of love and determination, looking to develop her skills, to connect with others and to achieve success. The other characters also evoked emotion, which made this an all around captivating adventurous story.
1700s Paris, wax heads, royalty, the revolution and Marie (Little) – who becomes Madame Tussaud… Edward Carey wrote this book over the course of 15 years…it is based on history with creativity, humor and tragedy. I enjoyed and recommend it!
About the Author:
Edward Carey is a writer and illustrator who was born in North Walsham, Norfolk, England, during an April snowstorm. Like his father and his grandfather, both officers in the Royal Navy, he attended Pangbourne Nautical College, where the closest he came to following his family calling was playing Captain Andy in the school’s production of Showboat. Afterwards he joined the National Youth Theatre and studied drama at Hull University.
He has written plays for the National Theatre of Romania and the Vilnius Small State Theatre, Lithuania. In England his plays and adaptations have been performed at the Young Vic Studio, the Battersea Arts Centre, and the Royal Opera House Studio. He has collaborated on a shadow puppet production of Macbeth in Malaysia, and with the Faulty Optic Theatre of Puppets.
He is also the author of the novels Observatory Mansions and Alva and Irva: the Twins Who Saved a City, which have been translated into thirteen different languages, and both of which he illustrated. He always draws the characters he writes about, but often the illustrations contradict the writing and vice versa and getting both to agree with each other takes him far too long. He has taught creative writing and fairy tales on numerous occasions at the Writers Workshop at the University of Iowa, and at the Michener Center and the English Department at the University of Texas at Austin.
He has lived in England, France, Romania, Lithuania, Germany, Ireland, Denmark, and the United States. He currently lives in Austin, Texas, which is not near the sea.