Little

Little

"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 WickedThe wry, macabre, unforgettable tale of an ambitious orphan in R...

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Title:Little
Author:Edward Carey
Rating:
Edition Language:English

Little Reviews

  • Creager

    I am astounded. I am charmed. I am awaiting the manifestation of pure joy this enchanting book will be for the ages. Anne Marie Grosholtz is as tall as the human heart but her outlook is to the moon. Orphaned at a young age, this child is apprenticed to a physician whose wax modeling lends a twist of the macabre and is a precursor to Marie’s wondrous involvement with French royalty, a revolution, and museums. Complete with elucidating illustrations, Little is a bold imagining of Madame Tussaud.

    I am astounded. I am charmed. I am awaiting the manifestation of pure joy this enchanting book will be for the ages. Anne Marie Grosholtz is as tall as the human heart but her outlook is to the moon. Orphaned at a young age, this child is apprenticed to a physician whose wax modeling lends a twist of the macabre and is a precursor to Marie’s wondrous involvement with French royalty, a revolution, and museums. Complete with elucidating illustrations, Little is a bold imagining of Madame Tussaud. To be clear, I love it! I love it! I love it!

  • Rose (Traveling Sister)

    Have you ever thought to yourself

    No? ME NEITHER. Not once. On my list of "Stuff That Gives Me Heebie Jeebies," going to hang out with a wax replica of Pierce Brosnan ranks somewhere between

    and

    But the history behind the now-numerous museums is undeniably GRIPPING.

    Marie Grosholtz, who would later become Madame Tussaud, is nothing short

    Have you ever thought to yourself

    No? ME NEITHER. Not once. On my list of "Stuff That Gives Me Heebie Jeebies," going to hang out with a wax replica of Pierce Brosnan ranks somewhere between

    and

    But the history behind the now-numerous museums is undeniably GRIPPING.

    Marie Grosholtz, who would later become Madame Tussaud, is nothing short of fascinating. While

    is technically historical fiction, many of the events are rooted in reality, especially when it comes to the timeline. When Marie is very young, her mother takes a job in Bern, housekeeping for a doctor after Marie's father dies. Before too long, her mother also passes, leaving Marie under the watch of Doctor Curtius, a peculiar man who cares for the child but who also retains a curious cache of idiosyncrasies - among them, the art of casting and modeling human heads.

    Some rough circumstances force Doctor Curtius to move to Paris, where he keeps young Marie (and her developing interest in his work) under his wing. As he pursues his obsession with wax modeling, Marie becomes his loyal little helper. They take up residence in the house of a marvelously atrocious widow, and as the French Revolution marches on, their work transcends from the living to the dead.

    For a time, Marie is commissioned to live in Versailles and work as art tutor to Princess Élisabeth, Louis XVI's sister, though their relationship develops into something more meaningful to Marie. While I fancy myself a bit of a trivia nut, royalty and European war history has never really piqued my interest. Regardless, I was incredibly interested in Edward Carey's characterization of the king and his contemporaries. Needless to say, the crud hits the fan in Paris as revolutionaries clash with, imprison, and torture the royals off their thrones.

    Though

    is a sweeping novel that deals with science, romance, friendship, and coming-of-age, the exploration of the weird history is, by far, what will keep you the most riveted. Carey once worked at London's flagship Tussaud's, and the dedication he showed to this remarkably unconventional story was obvious and unwavering. It took him 15 years to finish this book, and the research shines through.

    He also peppered little sketches throughout the book which he drew, but which echo the established knowledge that Marie kept books full of drawings. They range from anatomical diagrams to sketches of people's heads and bodies in different positions, and they complement the suspenseful pace wonderfully. The drawings add a charmingly grotesque layer to Marie's narration, which is at the same time innocent and haunting.

    Though it's been weeks since I completed this ARC, not a day has gone by where I don't think about its brilliance. I read it before Halloween, and it was the perfect autumn novel: spooky, atmospheric, graphic, and historically educational. I would recommend this book to anyone and everyone.

    Many thanks to NetGalley and Edward Carey for the opportunity to read this gem before the masses.

  • Rebecca

    is Edward Carey’s deliciously macabre novel about Madame Tussaud, who starts life as Anne Marie Grosholtz in Switzerland in 1761 and loses both parents by the age of six. Known as Marie, she soon picks up the nickname “Little” at the studio where she helps Dr. Philip Curtius make wax anatomical models. When the indebted Curtius flees to Paris, Marie goes with him as his servant. Along with their landlady, a tailor’s widow named Charlotte Picot, and her son Edmond, they form a makesh

    is Edward Carey’s deliciously macabre novel about Madame Tussaud, who starts life as Anne Marie Grosholtz in Switzerland in 1761 and loses both parents by the age of six. Known as Marie, she soon picks up the nickname “Little” at the studio where she helps Dr. Philip Curtius make wax anatomical models. When the indebted Curtius flees to Paris, Marie goes with him as his servant. Along with their landlady, a tailor’s widow named Charlotte Picot, and her son Edmond, they form a makeshift family and a successful business, making wax heads and then dressing them in wigs and clothes to create whole figures of (in)famous citizens to display in their new quarters, a former monkey house.

    In the years to come Marie occupies an uncomfortable in-between position: she’s treated like a servant but never paid, and though she’s fond of Curtius and falls in love with Edmond she’s made to understand that she’s not their equal. However, her fortunes change when Princess Élisabeth, on an unannounced visit to the Cabinet of Dr. Curtius, is impressed with Marie’s art and anatomy skills and invites her to be her sculpture tutor at Versailles. Marie and the young royal make wax models of local peasants’ ailments so they can pray for them. By the time Marie returns to the monkey house, the Revolution is in full swing and there’s widespread hunger not just for wax heads in cabinets, but for real decapitated ones. It will take cunning and luck for Marie and her odd little family to survive the years of upheaval.

    The grimy picture of eighteenth-century Paris reminded me of

    by Andrew Miller, and I often thought of Dickens as I was reading. Little starts off most like

    : a first-person “I am born”-style account with each chapter headed by a pithy summary. The characters have exaggerated physical features and recurring verbal tics, and there is an unmistakable message that whether a royal or a lowly servant we are all the same inside. Of course, as that pivotal July 14th approaches, the Dickensian echo is more along the lines of

    .

    I think the novel would benefit from a more suggestive title and could stand to be a bit shorter, but it’s still a delightful piece of historical fiction and another hit from Gallic Books, responsible for two of my other favorite reads of the year so far,

    and

    . Part of the joy of reading it is encountering Carey’s slightly grotesque black-and-white illustrations, dozens of which appear through the text.

    In fact, I’ll sheepishly admit that before I read this I had Edward Carey confused for Edward Gorey, who was known for his ghoulish black-and-white drawings. Carey, an English playwright and novelist whose previous books include the Iremonger Trilogy, is married to Elizabeth McCracken and teaches at the University of Austin, Texas. After university he worked as a steward at Madame Tussaud’s in London, which is how he first came across her story. It’s an unforgettable one.

    Originally published, with images, on my blog,

    .

  • Will

    The description of Edward Carey’s

    intrigued me. It sounded like something I would enjoy, and the GR reviews were terrific. I hadn’t, however, read any reviews from critics so I was still a bit wary and approached the novel not knowing what to expect. It took me by surprise and caught me totally off-guard. I was immediately captivated by the story of the orphaned Marie, known as Little due to her small stature, and the numerous hardships she faced as the apprentice/servant of a wax sculpto

    The description of Edward Carey’s

    intrigued me. It sounded like something I would enjoy, and the GR reviews were terrific. I hadn’t, however, read any reviews from critics so I was still a bit wary and approached the novel not knowing what to expect. It took me by surprise and caught me totally off-guard. I was immediately captivated by the story of the orphaned Marie, known as Little due to her small stature, and the numerous hardships she faced as the apprentice/servant of a wax sculptor. Set in Paris during the 1700’s, the novel could easily be described as Dickensian in its style, tone and its cast of thoroughly odd and memorable characters. I am, admittedly, a sucker for that sort of thing so Carey grabbed my attention in his opening pages. The novel is narrated by Little and her voice is infectious and engaging, filled with warmth and understanding. Combining determination with an indominable spirit, Little overcomes many obstacles, including the French Revolution, to become, by the novel’s end, the famous Madame Tussaud.

    Carey has done his research and the novel is filled with real historical figures and events. Still, this is fiction and in his Acknowledgments Carey states that, while most of the story of Tussaud’s life in the novel is based in fact, parts of her life were ‘

    ’. Therefore, much of the novel and Little’s life is the author’s fictional imaginings. And what great imaginings they are! How witty, how macabre it all is. Strange, quirky and often humorous - the novel appeals and delights in so many ways.

    This was such an enjoyable and entertaining read that I can’t help but give it 5 stars. It was often hard for me to put it down. The writing is very good and the many, many illustrations that accompany the text are wonderful, adding so much to the overall effect. These illustrations, also done by the author, help to explain why it took him fifteen years to complete this novel. They also contribute to my 5-star rating – they had to be factored in when reviewing the novel as they were rightfully deserving of their own stars. This was such a joy to read and, although I may not have realized it, it was exactly what I needed – the perfect book at the perfect time. I highly recommend this one.

  • Cindy Burnett

    Little is the tale of Madame Tussaud (born Anne Marie Grosholtz) from her young life as an orphan through her time at Versailles with King Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette and then ultimately as the individual who established the wax museum she is still known for today. Carey includes clever drawings of various items throughout the book relating to the subject at hand, some fascinating and others at times a bit macabre, and each drawing adds depth to the book. My favorite part of the book is the i

    Little is the tale of Madame Tussaud (born Anne Marie Grosholtz) from her young life as an orphan through her time at Versailles with King Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette and then ultimately as the individual who established the wax museum she is still known for today. Carey includes clever drawings of various items throughout the book relating to the subject at hand, some fascinating and others at times a bit macabre, and each drawing adds depth to the book. My favorite part of the book is the information and descriptions relating to Revolutionary Paris and her life at Versailles. Little is a fabulous book about an ordinary girl who leaves an extraordinary legacy.

  • Ace

    I am not the kind of person that wants to go look at celebrity or famous figures at a waxworks museum so I wouldn’t normally have chosen this book out of the pile of historical fiction to read right now. However, a good friend here on GR recently read it and loved it so I thought I would trust his rare 5 star rating and give it a try. I also know nothing about the French revolution and much less about Madam Tussaud. This is a long and educational book for the likes of me and whilst I did look up

    I am not the kind of person that wants to go look at celebrity or famous figures at a waxworks museum so I wouldn’t normally have chosen this book out of the pile of historical fiction to read right now. However, a good friend here on GR recently read it and loved it so I thought I would trust his rare 5 star rating and give it a try. I also know nothing about the French revolution and much less about Madam Tussaud. This is a long and educational book for the likes of me and whilst I did look up a couple of things of historical reference and a few foreign words, I just trusted that the author knew what they were on about and went with the flow. Also worth noting is probably the length of this book which took me a long while to get through for different reasons, the news has been taking up a bit of my time and also preparing for the next leg of our journey.

    I did always want to go back to the book and only read one other which is a testament to the skill of the storytelling and the story itself.

    Little, is the name and description of Anne Marie Grosholtz, she is a tiny creature with a lust for knowledge and creativity that keeps her going and going through this odd story full of odd characters. You know there’s going to be a happy ending I guess, but she certainly had to work hard for her money and her name.

  • Jennifer

    is a re-imagining of the woman behind the famous tourist attraction: Madame Tussauds, a wax museum that displays wax sculptures of famous people and popular characters. Loosely based,

    follows this resilient woman from birth as Anne Marie Grosholtz to age eighty-nine as Marie Tussaud, along with the transformation of an abandoned monkey house into the start of a wax empire. French culture, history, royalty, war, death, art, life, and love...it all melts together in this lengthy piec

    is a re-imagining of the woman behind the famous tourist attraction: Madame Tussauds, a wax museum that displays wax sculptures of famous people and popular characters. Loosely based,

    follows this resilient woman from birth as Anne Marie Grosholtz to age eighty-nine as Marie Tussaud, along with the transformation of an abandoned monkey house into the start of a wax empire. French culture, history, royalty, war, death, art, life, and love...it all melts together in this lengthy piece of historical fiction. Edward Carey's storytelling relays that while little Marie's life was never easy, the many significant challenges provided her character with adaptability, determination, and excellent problem-solving skills. I especially liked her surprising humanity while surrounded by death masks and wax sculptures day in and day out:

    may interest fans of re-imagined history/fictional biographies and/or readers who have a fondness for the well-known wax museum. Personally, I struggled with remaining consistently invested in these characters as they never quite came to life for me. Like Marie, I was longing for the chance to engage with a shell that would not fully animate. However, I seem to be in the minority so maybe it was just me. If this sounds like a storyline you would enjoy, then consider checking it out for yourself!

  • Donna

    Little did I know when starting this book that there would be little historical accuracy within its pages and little regard for the reader when the author was more bent on writing a farce than anything resembling a true to life story with well developed characters who speak in natural dialogue. Instead, the author has created what reads like a stage play, peopled by one dimensional marionettes that jump to his tune.

    How did I find out this book was inaccurate when it came to chronicling the life

    Little did I know when starting this book that there would be little historical accuracy within its pages and little regard for the reader when the author was more bent on writing a farce than anything resembling a true to life story with well developed characters who speak in natural dialogue. Instead, the author has created what reads like a stage play, peopled by one dimensional marionettes that jump to his tune.

    How did I find out this book was inaccurate when it came to chronicling the life of Madame Tussaud, born Marie Grosholtz? When reading the beginning of this book, I found the early years of Marie’s life portrayed in it to be incredible, especially the way in which her parents died, leaving her an orphan at the age of six and at the mercy of her mother’s employer. So incredible were these events that I started researching Marie’s life online and was surprised to find that her father had died even before she was born and her mother had lived to a ripe old age even by today’s standards. And these were just the first of such discrepancies as I googled character after character in the book and found only a portion of them having been based on real people or people who Marie crossed paths with over the course of her life. So I came to see that this book was a work of fiction with only some historical facts included that I could rely upon.

    Skipping ahead to the acknowledgements, and searching for a bibliography that wasn’t there, and then reading a few of the author’s interviews online, I learned that the author worked on this book off and on for fifteen years, doing much research that included sources he didn’t trust as accurate, even Madame Tussaud’s memoirs. And after abandoning his research for a while in favor of writing YA fantasy books, he then became interested in approaching a book about Marie’s life in a similar manner in which he would be free to disregard historical sources at will and supply the reader with something he considered entertaining. He only names one historical source he used extensively as an aid to give an accurate portrayal of Paris during the time of the French Revolution. Too bad he didn’t care so much for accuracy where Marie’s life was concerned. He freely admits to making her an orphan early on to make the story more dramatic and compared it to how many a Disney film do just the same thing. Well yes, but Bambi isn't exactly an historical figure, unlike Madame Tussaud. He didn’t even bother to chronicle her later years when she married and began her wax museum work on her own. The author merely skimmed over these later years, giving the reader no idea how a woman during those times could succeed in such a business. Instead, he focused on the earlier years and ghoulishly lingered over the beheadings and the waxwork associated with them during that tumultuous time in France. After a while, I became numb to it.

    And the author’s skit-like writing is nothing new as I recently read a fiction novel called Undermajordomo Minor in pretty much the same style. The writing technique, when maintained for an entire novel, is impressive technically speaking, but tiring to read and ultimately gives the reader a bit of entertainment, but leaves him with nothing lasting, in my opinion. A person would do better to read any number of historical accountings of Marie’s life or read whatever exaggerated account of her life she wrote in her memoirs. It couldn’t be any more false than what was written in this book. There were some nice illustrations in it by the author, and I appreciated the detailed writing, and a seemingly accurate sense of time and place, so I’m giving the book credit for this with two stars. But reader beware, depending upon what you’d like to get out of this book, especially if you’re looking for historical accuracy.

  • Diane S ☔

    I am at 40% and for now am putting it down. Will come back to it after the holidays as it seems to take more concentration than I have available right now.

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