Monday 18 March 2019

Little - Edward Carey (2018)

Rating: Admirable

Little is a novel about how a woman born Anna Maria Grosholtz came to be the world renowned Madame Tussaud. The novel traces Grosholtz's life from childhood through to her time in Paris leading up to and including the period in which the French Revolution occurred (1789 - 1799). Little is a peculiar, fascinating and mostly enjoyable novel which exudes Gothic charm. Like most historical fiction there are aspects of the narrative that are present in order to provide a compelling plot, rather than reflect what is definitely known. Either way Tussaud was an intriguing character and Carey succeeds in creating an authentic first person voice for her character. The other main protagonists are impressive too, such as the crepuscular like Philippe Curtius, who taught Tussaud the eccentric art of wax modeling.

There is much to like about Little, including Carey's idiosyncratic illustrations that fill the book with visual cues and sometimes macabre imagery. Carey is a skilled writer with a unique style, however I did end up becoming impatient with the narrative and at times just plain sick of reading it. Little was a book club selection and I often take into consideration the state of my enthusiasm for a novel I would not normally choose to read as I near its last third. If it really holds my attention till the end I tend to rate it higher, therefore whilst I'm sure many readers would justifiably consider Little an excellent read, I'm giving it my equivalent of a three star rating. It could just be that, like many contemporary novels, Little is just simply a bit too long, but don't let that put you off, as the novel is well worth your attention if you are an adventurous reader.

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