Read: May 25 - 28 Verdict: 3.5 stars
French born, English raised Marguerite is a married doll-maker who is quite content with her life, her husband and her little doll shop in London. That is until some drunkards come to her shop, shouting about the French and end up skewering her husband. Afterwards, marguerite finds it difficult to discover any reason she should stay on int the world. Eventually her beloved aunt ships Marguerite off to become an apprentice under Madam Tussaud. Yes, that Madam Tussaud.
Madam Tussaud fled France several years earlier with her waxwork figures and her young son. With a grim sense of determination and a work ethnic that would please any soldier, Marie Tussaud is determined to make her waxwork show a success. Under Tussaud's guidance, Marguerite slowly begins to come out of her shell, rediscover her creative flare and maybe even fall in love. Marguerite also becomes entangled with a famous man of history - Lord Nelson!
Overall, I found this a very enjoyable book! From the get go, Marguerite was quite a likeable character and i actually found it remarkable how fond I became of Nicholas within the few mere pages he was actually alive. Their relationship was so sweet and sincere, I found myself hoping the blatant obvious wouldn't become true.
I also liked the strong character of Marie Tussaud. She faced every single situation the same, showing off a very tough character, only letting in a few cracks for softness now and again. She was a constant source of strength and admiration. And certainly sounded like someone who would become a very famous success!
I found the first half of the book a very slow read, despite the timeline in it being quite fast paced. The second half of the book went much quicker for me, and I enjoyed the bit of 'real' action in it much more!
Although Mr. Philipstral was portrayed as the 'villain', I wouldn't quite label him so. Yes, he was certainly a scoundrel and a trickster, and you probably couldn't trust him as far as you could throw him but I believed that he would never really hurt Marguerite, and truly did care for her. In the end, the last time Marguerite talked to Philistral was actually quite a sweet one, and showed that he thought of her even when his own life was at risk.
The characters of Darden Hastings and Brax Selwyn reminded me an awful lot (at first) of Mr Darcy and Mr Bingley from Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice. Hastings has the dark, grumpy exterior but is really quite a sweetheart inside, while Selwyn was full of jokes and easy smiles.
There were definitely times that Marguerite irritated me, in particular when she kept taking certain characters at face value. I wish she hadn't been so naive and sometimes some straight questions and answers would have solved some problems (and eradicated some subplots)
Overall, I think when an author can create a fictional character and place them in moments of history, and build them friendships with people of historical importance, making them seem like they've always belonged there...that's a real talent. And Trent did it so, so perfectly.