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How to Ruin a Queen Marie Antoinette, the Stolen Diamonds and the Scandal That Shook the French Throne by Jonathan Beckman
  

How to Ruin a Queen Marie Antoinette, the Stolen Diamonds and the Scandal That Shook the French Throne

History   Biography / Autobiography   All Shortlists and Winners   

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Winner of a Somerset Maugham Award 2015.

This is a tale of political machinations and extravagance on an enormous scale; of kidnappings, prison breaks and assassination attempts; of hapless French police disguised as colliers, reams of lesbian pornography and a duel fought with poisoned pigs. It is a detective story, a courtroom drama, a tragicomic farce, and a study of credulity and self-deception in the Age of Enlightenment.


The Good Book Guide logo The Good Book Guide Review. This book takes the once famous but now largely forgotten ‘Affair of the Diamond Necklace’, almost the sole topic of gossip among Parisians in 1786, and brings it back centre stage. In September 1785, a trial began in Paris that would kick-start the process whereby the French monarchy hurtled disastrously towards the Revolution. The plot concerned the Queen, Marie Antoinette, and Cardinal Rohan, who was accused of forging her signature to obtain the most expensive piece of jewellery in Europe, a necklace worth 1.6 million francs. The author argues that this case was a ‘defining’ moment for the French people because it allowed them to judge their betters and opened the door wide for the ensuing revolution.
~ Julia Hamilton

Synopsis

How to Ruin a Queen Marie Antoinette, the Stolen Diamonds and the Scandal That Shook the French Throne by Jonathan Beckman

'A hell of a tale and Jonathan Beckman gives it all the verve and swagger it deserves ...I read it with fascination, delight and frequent snorts of incredulity' The Spectator On 5 September 1785, a trial began in Paris that would divide the country, captivate Europe and send the French monarchy tumbling down the slope towards the Revolution. Cardinal Louis de Rohan, scion of one of the most ancient and distinguished families in France, stood accused of forging Marie Antoinette's signature to fraudulently obtain the most expensive piece of jewellery in Europe - a 2,400-carat necklace worth 1.6 million francs. Where were the diamonds now? Was Rohan entirely innocent? Was, for that matter, the queen? What was the role of the charismatic magus, the comte de Cagliostro, who was rumoured to be two-thousand-years old and capable of transforming metal into gold?

Reviews

'Glittering and gloriously goofy ... This is a terrific tale, told with assurance and gusto' Guardian

'Jonathan Beckman has an eye for a good story. His account of the affair is full of human drama, including illicit sex, assassination attempts and prison escapes ... a superb piece of research that separates myth from reality' Sunday Business Post

'A really fascinating history' Dan Stevens

'Stranger than fiction and told with a verve that suggests the author relishes his dodgy tale' Country Life

About the Author

Jonathan Beckman is senior editor of Literary Review. He has degrees in English from the University of Cambridge and Intellectual and Cultural History from Queen Mary, University of London. In 2010, he won the Royal Society of Literature Jerwood Award for Non-Fiction.

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Book Info

Publication date

23rd April 2015

Author

Jonathan Beckman

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Publisher

John Murray Publishers Ltd an imprint of Hodder & Stoughton General Division

Format

Paperback
400 pages

Categories

History
Biography / Autobiography
All Shortlists and Winners

European history
Modern history to 20th century: c 1700 to c 1900

ISBN

9781848549975

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