I won an ARC through Goodreads Giveaways in exchange for an honest review. Thank you Riverhead Books!
Little is one of the best books I’ve read not just in 2018, but ever. (It also has one of the best first paragraphs I’ve ever read on anything.)
This is a fictionalized account of the life of Anna Maria Grosholtz, more commonly known as Madame Tussaud but also known as Marie. I’ve never been to the museums and never felt compelled or fascinated by wax figures, but even so, this book will make you understand why people find them enthralling.
What is special about Little is that quirky gothicness that isn’t terribly dark or horrific. (Tim Burton-esque would be an okay comparison, for example.)
The story begins with Marie’s childhood in Berne, Switzerland, where she meets Dr. Curtis, a somber man who finds bones comforting and lives in a dreary house full of wax body parts. Marie is naturally attuned to this particular brand of wonder and eventually finds comfort in body parts and wax as well.
Her story is divided into the main chunks of her life: childhood, teenage years (some of which she lived in Versailles), young adulthood, etc.
The book contains tons of illustrations by Edward Carey. The drawings are understood to be drawn by Marie, who is an artist of more than only wax, and they mostly have an eerie, borderline unsettling quality that magnifies the gothic mood of the story.
This really is an excellent book. It’ll make you experience a lot of gloomy but delicate feelings, which is a very rare combination to find in any form of media.
I would recommend Little to: anyone looking for quirky gothicness that isn’t terribly dark, someone who hasn’t read something uniquely curious in a while, and fans of historical fiction.