Little by Edward Carey


This month saw the publication of Little by Edward Carey, which was a book I was fortunate enough to receive a review copy of. This was a book I was very excited about reading, partly due to it being a work of historical fiction. One of the things I enjoy most about historical fiction is its ability to transport the reader to another period of time, and to provide insight into a historical event or figure that they may not be overly familiar with. And in Little, Edward Carey has certainly done that.

Madame Tussaud is a name many will be familiar with, a name associated with waxwork models of celebrities and public figures, viewed by millions throughout the years, at locations across the globe. But I confess that despite visiting this attraction myself I never really gave the origins of Madame Tussaud and her waxworks much thought. In Little, Edward Carey re-imagines what Madame Tussaud’s life may have been like, based upon the fascinating information that is known about her extraordinary life. She was born in 1761, named Anne Marie Grosholtz, although she was known predominately as Marie, or to some she was known as ‘Little’ owing to her petite stature. From the opening pages I became quickly engrossed in the story of a small, unusual looking girl (she was said to have inherited her father’s distinctive chin, and her mother’s equally distinctive nose) and her remarkable life. Following on from the death of her parents, she moves to Paris where she becomes apprentice to an eccentric wax sculptor. It is here that her curiosity, and her passion for learning his craft leads to a macabre and unusual career path, and one which takes her even further than she may have imagined. This includes her becoming a tutor to a princess in Versailles, a role she relishes, whilst back in Paris, the French revolution is looming and further darkness awaits…

I thoroughly enjoyed reading Little and found it to be a fascinating and engaging read from start to finish. I found Little herself to be such an intriguing character, and I thought her narration was wonderfully written, giving her an authentic voice which kept my attention. It can be considered a bizarre book, and given the nature of the subject matter it is at times a macabre read. From Little’s fascination with the human body in all its intricacy, to her making death masks of those who were victims of the revolution, this is a story which has an unpleasant backdrop. But despite this there is a warmth to this story of a ‘blood-stained crumb of a girl’ who from humble beginnings as a servant perfected her skills in modeling with wax, in turn inspiring those around her, and of course, providing a spectacle for many people through to the present day. Her story is enhanced further with Edward Carey’s own illustrations which depict the wax models and human anatomy that helped shape Little’s life. I found these to be really effective in helping build up the imagery of this peculiar tale, and bring her unusual world to life.

I really enjoyed Little and would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys historical fiction or is looking for something a little different. In Little, Edward Carey has brought Madame Tussaud to life, and provided fascinating insight into her journey, and all the challenges she faced along the way. It is a dark and moving story that explores human life in all its complexity, by turns humorous and poignant, and full of heart.

Little was published on 4th October 2018 by Gallic Books, with thanks to Jimena at Gallic Books for providing a copy for review.

3 thoughts on “Little by Edward Carey

  1. It’ a wonderful historical novel and tribute to a fascinating woman who lived an extraordinary life, I was relieved that she survived and could remake her life elsewhere and finally be compensated for the hard work she spent so many years doing without being valued or recognised. I wonder what became of her sons?

    Liked by 1 person

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