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Carpe Librum

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Historical Novel Society

Review: How to Ruin a Queen - The Diamond Necklace Affair by Jonathan Beckman

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

A highly detailed and informative account of the Diamond Necklace Affair. Beckman's investigation into this case, which helped to instigate the fall of Marie Antoinette, is nonfiction but written in a compelling style. Each of the participants in the case is brought vividly to life through use of memoirs and contemporary accounts.

The reader will laugh out loud at Jeanne de Motte's outrageous scheming and bold lying. Cardinal Rohan's gullibility and naivety will cause head shaking incredulity. Each person involved has their life described in full, so that one can understand how they came to be involved in this historical theft and fraud.

A unique addition to this story was the author's inclusion of many references to literature of the time. The analysis of popular art and novels gave an additional insight to what each of the people in this case may have been thinking. Jeanne is described as believing that history is whatever people believe, and is she ever convincing in her lies!

A thorough and enjoyable discussion of the Diamond Necklace Affair, this book is a great addition to any personal French history library.