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The child Jeanne Valois lost her family, her home, and her fortune to the greed of an influential aristocrat. Now grown into a proud young woman of rare beauty and exceptional wiles, she has gained entrance to the court of Louis XVI and exquisite, reviled queen Marie Antoinette through an expedient marriage, seeking restitution for what was stolen from her. But Jeanne de La Motte-Valois's entreaties have fallen on deaf royal ears, inflaming her desire for justice...and ...
The child Jeanne Valois lost her family, her home, and her fortune to the greed of an influential aristocrat. Now grown into a proud young woman of rare beauty and exceptional wiles, she has gained entrance to the court of Louis XVI and exquisite, reviled queen Marie Antoinette through an expedient marriage, seeking restitution for what was stolen from her. But Jeanne de La Motte-Valois's entreaties have fallen on deaf royal ears, inflaming her desire for justice...and vengeance.
In an era of excessive splendor, squalor, and cruelty, amid the myraid intrigues, both dangerous and erotic, that swirl around the powers of France, the brilliant stratagems of a woman wronged will eclipse all others — as infamy, tragedy, and death loom in the shadows of a conspiracy that begins with a breathtaking vision of diamonds and gold...and ends with revolution.
I was born twenty-eight years ago of illustrious origin. Royal blood flows in my veins: retrace five generations and you come upon a king. Some of you might not have believed this, seeing the girl I was -- once upon a time, as Monsieur Perrault might have said in one of his tales for a winter's night. And yet I tell you it is true: as real as if you were to take your fingernail and draw it, hard, across the cheek of a painted wanton, and see the blood seep out from beneath the veneer of white lead and rouge that she wears.
The truth of my name is that blood. It courses through me, hot and never still; in my darkest hours it casts a glow upon my thoughts. It is, simply, what keeps me alive.
Sadly for me, in the year that my tale starts, the Valois name had fallen upon difficult times. Through no fault of our own, unless one can say that the innocent who walks down a street only to be beset by brigands is to be blamed for the theft of his gold. But I will tell you, the loss of one's purse is as nothing as to the loss of one's home; and even that pales before the loss of one's name.
Until I was eight years old, I lived in a kingdom of gold. These riches came not from our holdings, which were extensive but not excessive -- a three-storied château surrounded by miles of oak forest and swelling hills and fields where rye grew, and summer wheat, and apples so sweet that each autumn you would cry out with joy when first you bit into one. No, the riches which nourished me were those that came from seeing, each day, the faces of my parents drawn close together over the table at breakfast: their laughter and delight in each other, and in me,their only child. My mother, Irene, was twenty-seven years old, a gentle but intelligent woman. She painted, for her pleasure and that of my father, Darnell, who proudly hung her work alongside portraits of our ancestors in the grand but chilly formal rooms of our home. She read to me as well. Not just Perrault's stories and les contes de ma Mére l'Oie, the tales of Mother Goose which every child hears, but also the fairy tales of Voltaire, as well as his Candide, and the amusing plays of Moliére, of which my father was especially fond. But my favorite of all these was “Le Chat botté,” Puss in Boots, the tale of the brave and clever cat who comes to the aid of his owner, a young boy who has been disinherited by evil men. My mother used to laugh as I dressed myself in the gardener's cast-off shoes to stomp around the bedroom, acting out for her brave Puss's adventures, and ending of course with honor and the family fortunes restored. As she entered the last days of her confinement with her second child, my darling baby sister, I would turn from my blood-thirsty dramas to the calmer stage of our garden. There I would swing while my mother painted, and my father saw to all theresponsibilities of running an estate.
Perhaps because my mother was painting me that day -- I remember vividly peering over her shoulder at the little canvas -- I can still recall exactly how it happened. My father had come up to see us, his boots still dusted with black earth and gold straw from where he had been overseeing the harvest. He too stopped to observe the progress of my mother's painting, and to check as well the progress of their joint creative effort, the child swelling in her womb. His hand caressed her belly straining against her silk skirt: I can see the two of them now, as clearly as though they were on a painted canvas in front of me. Nothing and no one has ever seemed as lovely to me as they were then.
I knew that I belonged with them, and to them, Irene and Darnell Valois. That knowledge was what made me rich, that knowledge was my birthright; and so I launched myself from the swing to tumble laughing at their feet, my skirts flung up over my head and my parents laughing as I shook the folds of fabric from my face and gazed up at them, as happy as I had ever been. As happy as I would ever be.
“Grace in all its form and glory,” my mother laughed.
“Jeanne!” my father called, his tone mock accusing. “Have you forgotten? You promised to take me for a ride today.”
“I have not forgotten!” I cried, running into his arms. He kissed my mother good-bye, tenderly; then, sweeping me up alongside him, headed for the stables.
We galloped across the fields that lay to the west of our home. Ring-necked doves flew up from the long grass, crying plaintively, and little yellow butterflies like a swarm of golden coins falling upward instead of down. I sat on the saddle in front of my father, his right hand holding tight to the reins, his left arm locked around me. It was the safest place in all the world; and from that vantage point I saw all the rest of the world as part of that domain, a kingdom in which I had nothing to fear...The Affair of the Necklace. Copyright © by Elizabeth Hand. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.
Posted December 8, 2013
The Affair of the Necklace, although sometimes hard to follow, is a quick and easy read. Anyone in middle school or older could easily read this book with only a few misunderstandings of what happens. Elizabeth Hand is a very complex writer, but she conveys the story in a way that is interesting and full of detail. She takes you back to the 18th century during the affair and makes you feel like you are a part of everything.
I liked this book because it was full of action. Although there was no fighting, there was a lot of drama and suspense. I got sucked into this book right from the beginning. I connected with the main character Jeanne and it felt like she became a part of me. The think I liked most about this book was that it was relatable. All the relationships between characters were just like a relationship of any kind today. They go through up and downs together and sometimes there’s hardships that can’t be overcome. Just like in today’s society, relationships are a hard thing and you really have to work on them to be successful.
I would recommend this book to a variety of people but mostly to middle school and high school students. If you are interested in history, this is a great book for you. Although the book itself is historical fiction, it relates so closely to the affair that did actually happen.
Overall this book was surprisingly enjoyable to read. I am not a huge fan of history but this book was a good choice in my opinion. The one thing about this book that I don’t like is that it is hard to follow in some places, but once you go back and reread, it becomes clear as to what is happening. I am glad I chose this book to read and many others should have the pleasure of reading this book.