The French Blue

The French Blue

by Richard W. Wise

Hardcover

$29.95
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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780972822367
Publisher: Brunswick House Press
Publication date: 01/04/2010
Pages: 567
Product dimensions: 6.40(w) x 8.90(h) x 1.70(d)

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The French Blue 4.9 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 11 reviews.
Brandy_Purdy More than 1 year ago
Almost everyone has heard the legend of the cursed Hope Diamond, but did you ever wonder how it all began, who was the man behind that alluring behemoth blue diamond, what is the truth behind the myths that have been set like the ring of smaller white diamonds that surround the glittering blue mystery on display at the Smithsonian? Well, thanks to Mr. Wise, we now have a novel that nimbly toes the line between truth and literary invention and tells the life story of Jean-Baptiste Tavernier; "The French Blue" is a novel that adheres to the known facts with just a little fiction thrown in as garnish and to fill in the unknown gaps in Tavernier's life. The son of a cartographer (mapmaker) who never got to visit the far-off and exotic places he incorporated into the maps he made, Jean-Baptiste Tavernier, his wanderlust fueled by the tales of travelers who visited his father, grew up to be a savvy multilingual world traveler, a canny gem merchant with a brilliant eye for the finest stones, and a shrewd bargainer, adept at getting the best prices and reaping a profit. Like the boy Tavernier sitting by the fire listening to a traveler's fantastical tale, "The French Blue" gives the reader the same feeling. Through Tavernier's words, this leisurely and engrossing novel gives readers a window to the 17th century, and lets us peep into a world of battlefields, bedrooms, court and diplomatic intrigues, and experience the perils of travel in the days before automobiles, airplanes, and trains, and hear the merchants, the buyers and sellers, bargain, barter, and haggle. And we get to see the cultures and customs of Persia, India, and other exotic lands, strange and unknown, sometimes even bizarre, to European eyes and ears. And then there are the gems--turquoise, rubies, sapphires, and diamonds--rough and unpolished, brought up from the bowels of the earth to be cleaned, cut, and faceted, transformed into sparkling wonders to be marveled at, gasped and sighed over, coveted and adored. This exhaustively researched novel, assembled with the same care as a gem-cutter faceting a precious stone, has the authentic feel of a traveler's journal, however, those readers who prefer a more emotional, soul-baring narrator, may find it lacks the "poetry of the soul." But those who prefer a more factual tone, and deplore the more fantastical and lascivious embroidery worked by historical novelists, may find that "The French Blue" is precisely their cup of tea. As for myself, I just like a good story, and I found "The French Blue," with a cup of hot chocolate and a warm blanket, to be a good companion on these cold winter nights.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Richard W. Wise has written a drop dead fabulous book about the 17th Century French gem dealer/adventurer Jean Baptiste Tavernier. The book is marketed as "the back story of the Hope Diamond" but it is so much more. Wise has managed to pack adventure and true historical detail into this story of one of the 17th Century's most remarkable men. His long pursuit of the love of his life, Madelaine de Goisse the illegitimate daughter of a French courtesan and a Persian king is touching. It demonstrates the amazing tenacity of a man who made six voyages to Persia in the early to mid-17th Century. A masterpiece of the genre.
LJ_Guerrero More than 1 year ago
Jean-Baptiste Tavernier was a gem trader in the seventeenth century who completed six voyages through Persia and India and is perhaps most widely remembered for his discovery of The French Blue; an enormous blue diamond that was eventually recut into The Hope Diamond. Tavernier's life and astounding adventurers form the basis of Richard W. Wise's historical fiction work The French Blue: An Illustrated Novel of the Seventeenth Century. Wise did a magnificent job in choosing the subject for his book, as Tavernier proves to be a fascinating protagonist. From the pearl divers of Persia to the diamond mines in India and the splendors of the court at Versailles, the story is ripe with action and information and peppered with romance and politics. The tale moves at a perfect pace and Wise's skill at research is equal to his mastery of prose, as the fictional and factual characters are seamlessly blended together - and sometimes nearly indistinguishable. The inclusion of figures and illustrations also add a wonderful seasoning to an expertly constructed work. The French Blue was a highly enjoyable novel. Much like the gems described throughout the plot, this is a book that is eye-catching, intriguing, and overall a stunning treasure.
karenmarieNC More than 1 year ago
The French Blue is a heavensend to anybody who likes historical fiction, gemstones, adventure and danger, travel to far-away places, details about the French court in the 1600s, or Jean-Baptiste Tavernier. I claimed interest in four of the six before reading this book, now claim interest in all six. Tavernier, a Frenchman who lived from 1605 to 1689, was the son of a Parisian cartographer and engraver who was inspired to travel because of his father's work and contacts. He became a gem merchant. He traveled to Persia and India 6 times during the period 1630 - 1668, always returning with fabulous gems. He is credited with bringing the French Blue diamond out of India. He sold it to Louis XIV, the Sun King, for much less than its worth. Possibly as an additional incentive to the sale, Louis granted Tavernier a Patent of Nobility and Tavernier became the Baron of Aubonne. Tavernier seemed to know that he couldn't get what the diamond was worth, yet got enough of value to make him happy. I got the sense throughout the book that Tavernier was politically sophisticated and knew how to take care of himself, yet there is not much in the book of Tavernier's inner life or musings. Wise has said elsewhere that that's how the journals read, so at least this method of presenting Tavernier is consistent with how he wrote for posterity. The story ends when Tavernier is made Baron of Aubonne, and to tell the truth, the French Blue itself occupies very little of the story of the book. I didn't mind this at all, because the stories of his travels were enough on their own and held me fascinated. There is enough information on the internet to fill in the rest of the story, both of Tavernier and of the Hope Diamond. One thing I always appreciate is keeping people true to the period they're living in. Wise does not whitewash the prejudices and opinions of a 17th-century man. I did not once think "Wait a minute, that doesn't feel right for the time period." The language is modern without infusing modern ideas into the identities of the people or events; yet has interesting phrasing, some directly attributable to Tavernier, and activites and words obsolete in our time. The sights, smells, and sounds of France, Persia, and India are brought vividly to life. Acceptable in a work of fiction, Wise does take a bit of poetic license with Madeleine Goisse, turning her from the daughter of a Parisian jeweler into the daughter of a Persian king. This license brings life to Tavernier, showing him an emotional being even as he is gone from Paris for years at a time doing the work he loved and seeking the best gems he could find. The book reads like a charm. It is detailed and interesting. It is a beautiful book physically, with an artistic dust jacket, crisp white paper, beautiful font, and, unusual and wonderful in a book of fiction, illustrations. There are illustrations of the Louvre, illustrations taken from Tavernier's journals, and illustrations of people and places. The only thing I can criticize is a certain strangeness to some of the punctuation - especially hyphens and question marks. Both seem to be used in places I wouldn't expect them to be used and were occasionally disconcerting. Several times I wondered whether there should be an exclamation point instead of a question mark. But I soon lost myself in the story again and enjoyed that story very much indeed. 4 ½ stars for a stunning book.
designated_knitter More than 1 year ago
I love historical fiction; I love fine gems; I love hefty books that you can "live with" for awhile. This book has all of that and so much more. Like Clavell's novels (The Shogun Series), this book introduces you to characters that become part of your life. The writing style is easy to read but not in a "bodice ripper" style. The author avoids the mistake that many first time novelists make in trying to be too cute with their dialogue and/or over-pretentious prose. He creates a setting where you feel like you are going on the journey along with the characters -- you can feel yourself as being part of that time. The author definitely has done his research and you do come away feeling like you have really learned something -- both about history and the gem industry. Of course, since Richard Wise is an expert in gemology in real life, this is not surprising. I do hope that he will continue to write fiction. The wonderful thing about the James Clavell saga is that it kept going and going so you could follow it. You truly become emotionally invested in it. I hope that Wise is able to do the same -- he is off to a great start. As a side note, the book itself is simply beautiful -- the dust jacket, the paper quality, the type-face... it is not a "cheaply published" book that so many hardcovers are these days. I know this is a small thing but it just really adds to the overall "wow-factor" of the book.
thatsallsheread More than 1 year ago
From That's All She Read http://allsheread.blogspot.com Jean Baptiste Tavernier's story is a remarkable one, and this novel, The French Blue, based on his true adventures is very nearly as remarkable. Tavernier lived in the mid-1600s, traveled as far as Burma and Indonesia in search of precious gems, and is most famous for his discovery of the huge blue diamond that came to be known as the unlucky Hope Diamond. Wise's novel follows Tavernier from childhood in Paris where, the son of a mapmaker, he catches the wanderlust that led him first to travel all over Europe in the employ of nobility and thence to Persia to start learning about turquoise and pearls. Tavernier was multi-lingual and appears to have had a knack for getting along with potentates of all stripes. His honesty and his knowledge of gems makes him a trusted man wherever he goes. His acumen during his six voyages makes him an effective diplomat and also brings him wealth and a title, not to mention, in the novel anyway, the love of several remarkable women, not the least of which is a mysterious half-Persian beauty. This is one thoroughly researched book. The author is himself a gemologist, lending much credibility to his descriptions of the diamonds, rubies, sapphires, pearls and other precious gems and to the trade in these stones in the 17th century. His handling of Tavernier's journeys, the places he goes, the people he meets, and his method of locating and acquiring literally tens of thousands of jewels provides a depth of authenticity to rival the best historical novelists. Even his description of shipboard travel and battle is richly detailed without being tiresome. I was charmed by the language in this novel, learning in the author's afterword that he preserved Tavernier's own unique phraseology in this first person narrative. I had already noted how much of the flavor of French made it through into Wise's prose, and now I know why. I don't think I have ever seen this fidelity to the feel of a language in any other book. The gilding on this lily is a host of wonderful illustrations of people and places from Tavernier's boyages, including his own illustreations of the gems he finds. The novel illustrates one challenge authors face when fictionalizing real events. You just don't know what to leave in or out sometimes. The tale wandered off the track from time to time, clearly to try to depict real events and, as the author confesses, to fill in blank time periods when Tavernier's movements are unknown. One such story, while entertaining itself, involves his superfluous and entirely fictional involvement in the assassination of Albrecht von Wallenstein. As one author expressed this, too much dogged detail in a fictional biography is like a diamond in the rough. You need to cut it down to the essential gem for its value to be realized. This novel would have been a more polished work had Wise crafted it along a consistent theme and not tried to cram everything in, to detail everything in Tavernier's life. The result is a fascinating story that tends to meander, whether to adhere to Tavernier's real life, to fill in the empty spots, or to inject relationships with women no doubt for the sake of the novelization. Nevertheless, The French Blue joyfully and skillfully introduces lots of 17th century celebrities, such as Louis Quatorze, the Sun King, and itself has enough luster to make any minor flaws easy to overlook.
Oregonreader on LibraryThing 5 months ago
In his historical novel, The French Blue, author Richard Wise tells the amazing story of Jean Baptiste Tavernier, a 17th Century traveler and gem merchant. Son of a cartographer in Paris, he becomes fascinated with gemology and leaves home at an early age to travel to Persia and India to learn about pearls, rubies, and diamonds. He eventually becomes a highly respected gem dealer, buying for Cardinal Richelieu, Louis XIV and other nobles The title refers to his greatest find, an amazing blue diamond that eventually came to be known as the Hope Diamond. Most of the novel describes Tavernier's travels though exotic lands and his dealings with merchants and royalty. Wise does an amazing job of describing the physical conditions of travel, risky at best, and the cultural environments Tavernier has to navigate. The best historical novels whisk you away to another time and place and give you a real sense of being there. Wise is a master at this. I was not familiar with this character before I read the book, and I found it very helpful that he includes an appendix which explains the fictional aspects of the story. If you like historical fiction, this book is a must read. I couldn't put it down!
Ronrose1 on LibraryThing 5 months ago
There are a few books that you feel you have to rush through to see what will happen next. Then when you have finished, you wish that it could have continued. This is one of those books. Jean-Baptiste Tavernier, was a traveler, merchant and gem trader extraordinaire. In the mid 1600's, he left his native France to travel to Persia, India, and the Far East to search for the world's rarest gems. During his six voyages, that spanned over thirty-six years, he met and traded with kings, princes, shahs, and, potentates. Among them Cardinal Richelieu, ministers Mazarin, and Colbert of France, The Great Mogul of India, Shah Jahan, of India, who built the Taj Mahal to honor his deceased wife, also the Shah of Persia, and of course, Louis XIV, the Sun King, of France. Jean sold to Louis XIV, the rarest gem in the world, The French Blue. A blue diamond weighing over 112 carats, uncut. Over the years this gem would be cut twice, eventually becoming what is now known as the Hope Diamond. Add in adventure and excitement in foreign lands and a smattering of romance that spans two continents and you have a perfect summer read. A welcome addition to any collection.
soniaandree on LibraryThing 5 months ago
The book was given to me as part of Richard W. Wise's HobNob Giveaway. The style is easy to read and to follow; the mix of images and text is spacious, consistent and the chapters are clearly separated from each others. In terms of format, I always enjoy a 'justified' form of editing, maybe it comes from being shortsighted and astigmatic, but a regular, consistent text form is easier on the eye.The historical plot is well researched and I was pleasantly surprised by how good and easy to read the book was - it got me to know about a part of French history (with the life of Tavernier) and gems (I am no gemstone connoisseur). The plot mixes life experience, travel, family matters and a love story, all well distributed within the plot; not one theme is more important than the other, the reading pace is even and there was not a single glitch to the narrative that would have come to my attention.In the end, the book has entertained me in those last couple of hot Summer days of holidays in Burgundy, and I would recommend the book to anyone wanting to read a good historical novel. After all, if diamonds are a girl's best friends, those virtual ones were refreshing enough for the Summer!
elbakerone on LibraryThing 5 months ago
Jean-Baptiste Tavernier was a gem trader in the seventeenth century who completed six voyages through Persia and India and is perhaps most widely remembered for his discovery of The French Blue; an enormous blue diamond that was eventually recut into The Hope Diamond. Tavernier's life and astounding adventurers form the basis of Richard W. Wise's historical fiction work The French Blue: An Illustrated Novel of the Seventeenth Century.Wise did a magnificent job in choosing the subject for his book, as Tavernier proves to be a fascinating protagonist. From the pearl divers of Persia to the diamond mines in India and the splendors of the court at Versailles, the story is ripe with action and information and peppered with romance and politics. The tale moves at a perfect pace and Wise's skill at research is equal to his mastery of prose, as the fictional and factual characters are seamlessly blended together - and sometimes nearly indistinguishable. The inclusion of figures and illustrations also add a wonderful seasoning to an expertly constructed work.The French Blue was a highly enjoyable novel. Much like the gems described throughout the plot, this is a book that is eye-catching, intriguing, and overall a stunning treasure.
Ronrose More than 1 year ago
There are a few books that you feel you have to rush through to see what will happen next. Then when you have finished, you wish that it could have continued. This is one of those books. Jean-Baptiste Tavernier, was a traveler, merchant and gem trader extraordinaire. In the mid 1600's, he left his native France to travel to Persia, India, and the Far East to search for the world's rarest gems. During his six voyages, that spanned over thirty-six years, he met and traded with kings, princes, shahs, and, potentates. Among them Cardinal Richelieu, ministers Mazarin, and Colbert of France, The Great Mogul of India, Shah Jahan, of India, who built the Taj Mahal to honor his deceased wife, also the Shah of Persia, and of course, Louis XIV, the Sun King, of France. Jean sold to Louis XIV, the rarest gem in the world, The French Blue. A blue diamond weighing over 112 carats, uncut. Over the years this gem would be cut twice, eventually becoming what is now known as the Hope Diamond. Add in adventure and excitement in foreign lands and a smattering of romance that spans two continents and you have a perfect summer read.