‘Thrilling, eerie, fun, and psychologically compelling, Tussaud cleverly blurs the line between history and the fantastical to create a Gothic delight of mysterious mansions, grimy London streets, stage magicians, wax-work automatons, secrets and subterfuges. MARY SHELLEY WOULD BE PROUD.’
H.G. Parry, author of The Unlikely Escape of Uriah Heep
Paris, 1810. Haunted by the French Revolution, Marie Tussaud has locked herself away in her shop with the death masks she was forced to create to survive. Philidor, ‘the father of ghosts’, offers her the chance to accompany him to London to assist in creating a human-sized wax automaton that will bring them both money and success. Marie jumps at the opportunity but the grim reality of London life, the dishonest Philidor and a disastrous opening night performance does not bode well.
That is until the reclusive Lord Willian Cavendish invites them by letter to his rambling estate, Welbeck, where he suggests they take up residence, use his underground ballroom for a new show and in return make a private commission for him.
In this delicious novel of twists and turns, Welbeck, with its locked doors and rooms, is full of secrets and no-one is who they seem. There is the seductive aura of Shelley, Dickens and Du Maurier in Tussaud, but it is a historical novel with a modern consciousness. Marie must fight for survival in a world dominated by male advantage and power in a mesmerising story filled with wisdom about human behaviour and motivations.
‘Lies, treasons and twists will lure and enthral the reader. At the heart of Tussaud a mysterious automaton challenges the limits of its physical body, craving for a conscience. The reader is in for wondrous ride as Belinda Lyons-Lee poignantly captures Marie Tussaud’s proud self-denial, her struggle to achieve independence in a world dominated by con-artists, and her rare talent to create the most perfect illusion of life.’
Mariano Tomatis, Italian writer and magician