How to Ruin a Queen: Marie Antoinette and the Diamond Necklace Affair

How to Ruin a Queen: Marie Antoinette and the Diamond Necklace Affair

by Jonathan Beckman


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In 1785, a sensational trial began in Paris that would divide the country and captivate Europe. A leading Catholic cardinal and scion of one of the most distinguished families in France stood accused of forging the queen's signature to obtain the most expensive piece of jewelry in Europe: a 2,800-carat diamond necklace. Where were the diamonds? Was the cardinal innocent? Was, for that matter, the queen? The revelations from the trial would bedevil the French monarchy as the country descended into a bloody revolution.

In How to Ruin a Queen, award-winning author Jonathan Beckman tells of political machinations and enormous extravagance; of kidnappings, prison breaks, and assassination attempts; of hapless French police in disguise, 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.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780306823558
Publisher: Hachette Books
Publication date: 09/02/2014
Pages: 408
Product dimensions: 6.30(w) x 9.00(h) x 1.50(d)

About the Author

Jonathan Beckman is senior editor of Literary Review. He has degrees from the University of Cambridge and University of London. His writing has appeared in numerous publications, including The Observer, Times Literary Supplement, Daily Telegraph, Daily Mail, Financial Times, Sunday Times, Spectator, New Statesman, and Independent. In 2010, he won the Royal Society of Literature Jerwood Award for Non-Fiction. He lives in London.

Table of Contents

Dramatis Personae ix

Prologue: Before the Law I

1 Princess in Rags 7

2 The Man Who Never Grew Up 24

3 Faith, Hope and Charity 39

4 Antoinette Against Versailles 51

5 In My Lady's Chamber 62

6 Notes on a Scandal 72

7 To Play the Queen 83

8 Diamonds and Best Friends 96

9 The Greatest Man in Europe: An Interlude 111

10 Follow the Money 123

11 Days of Reckoning 134

12 'I Will Pay for Everything' 143

13 Arresting Developments 149

14 Hotel Bastille 159

15 Witness Protection 167

16 Tired and Emotional 176

17 Nicolas Abroad: A Picaresque 184

18 Questions, Questions 188

19 Cheek to Cheek, Toe to Toe 201

20 An Extraordinary Rendition 209

21 The Truth Will Out 221

22 In The Gossip Factory 230

23 Judgement Day 241

24 Catch Him if you Can: A Burlesque 251

25 Farewell, My Country 259

26 Down and Out in Paris and London 268

27 Confessions of a Justified Sinner 276

28 The Fall of the Houses of Valois and Bourbon 285

29 Madness, Sadness, Poverty 294

30 Flashes in the Crystal: A Conclusion 303

Acknowledgements 311

Illustration Credits 313

Notes 315

Note on the Sources 351

Bibliography 353

Inedx 371

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How to Ruin a Queen: Marie Antoinette and the Diamond Necklace Affair 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
Mirella More than 1 year ago
This non-fiction book is an investigation into the people and events that led up to what has been dubbed the diamond necklace affair that helped ignite the French Revolution. This historical scam began to unravel when the jewelers began to demand payment from an unsuspecting Marie Antoinette and her husband, King Louis XVI.  The fraud unravelled when the jewellers began pestering the Queen for payment, and one by one, the culprits were exposed. Cardinal Rohan, a man desperate to rise in power and eager to gain entry into the inner circle of the king and queen. Jeanne, an poor descendant of a king's bastard, Retaux de Villette a fraudster, a prostitute, and an unsuspecting jeweler. The gullibility of the cardinal, the shrewdness of Jeanne, and the mischief of a prostitute and a brazen lover make this an incredibly interesting read, to say the least. This book is an excellent resource for those who want to learn more about this horrendous scandal, the tumultuous era of the French Revolution, and the sad fate of a king and queen who lost the respect of the public they served.