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The Queen's Necklace: Marie Antoinette and the Scandal that Shocked and Mystified France (Phoenix Press) Paperback – September 1, 2004

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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Frances Sanger Mossiker was born in Dallas in 1906. She studied French and Romance languages at Smith College, Barnard College, and the Sorbonne. The NEW YORK TIMES said upon her death on May 9, 1975, 'She wrote in a way that combined painstaking attention to detail with a lively style that made her a best-selling author on both sides of the Atlantic.'


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Product Details

  • Series: Phoenix Press
  • Paperback: 640 pages
  • Publisher: Phoenix (September 1, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1842126148
  • ISBN-13: 978-1842126141
  • Product Dimensions: 7.7 x 5.1 x 1.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #653,151 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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19 of 20 people found the following review helpful By K. Maxwell on March 30, 2005
Format: Paperback
In 1785 The Queen's Necklace scandal broke over France. Queen Marie Antoinette was alleged to have bought a diamond necklace worth over 1.6 million franks and refused to pay for it, and had Cardinal Prince Rohan, a long time courtier out of favour, arrested for it along with his accomplices the Countess de la Motte-Valois and the famous mystic Count Cagliostro.

This book is a series of fascinating first person accounts of how the necklace swindle occurred and the trial that followed it. Most of the people involved in the scandal wrote their memoirs and virtually all the court related documentation is still available in France in archives. This book is a compilation of these memoirs and legal statements made by all the parties involved in this crime which opened the monarchy and France to the fury of the revolution.

The author does not impose her own interpretation of the events on the reader, but does provide explanations to the backgrounds of the people involved and the social and political niceties of the time that explain why people acted as they did.

This book is a lively account of this important French scandal that, because of the first person accounts, reads like a novel. If the story wasn't true it would be hard to credit such a cast of interesting characters, with their extravagant and wildly different backgrounds, coming together like this to play a crucial role in the downfall of the French Monarchy. Its also very interesting to compare this book to what is portrayed in the movie of the same name. There are a number of very significant differences!
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Richard Adkins on February 15, 2008
Format: Paperback
The Queen's Necklace is a remarkable book. As an avid reader of French Revolutionary history, I was initially daunted by its 500+ pages, but the style of writing with it's excerpts from period memoirs, made it eminently readable. I found myself unable to stop reading. The use of the memoirs, particularly when they contradict each other so strongly, presents the reader with the opportunity to weigh each version and use them to "read between the lines" to obtain the story - or in some cases, "a" story - by the memoirs' authors themselves.

It was a delightful read with virtually no connection to the movie of the same name. What a wasted opportunity that was! The real story is the stuff of movie making, had the writer and producer used this book, the film might have been a hit. Sophia Coppola, with her "Marie Antoinette" film could have benefitted from this book as it accurately presents Marie Antoinette at a time when her fate had already been decided in the minds of the public by libelous pamphleteers and the actions of such self-interested, self-involved charlatans as Madame La Motte-Valois, the central character in this story.

I was fortunate to be able to see the San Francisco Legion of Honor exhibit on Marie Antoinette and the Grand Trianon as I was reading this book. It served to reinforce what a great book this is.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By A reader on July 13, 2008
Format: Paperback
Copies of this book are on sale in the gift shop at the Palace of Versailles. That's saying something for a book published, in English, in 1961. I figured there must be a reason and I was right. This fascinating page-turner is equal parts social history, shadowy mystery, and riveting tale of intrigue. The story is told primarily through masterfully translated excerpts from contemporary source materials--diaries, memoirs, autobiographies. In all honesty I rarely read books this long anymore, but this did not seem long at all. Finally, this title will expand your vocabulary--I guess readers were familiar with more words in 1961!
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11 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Catherine Delors on March 1, 2009
Format: Paperback
Before reading this book, I thought I had a fairly good knowledge of the infamous Affair of the Necklace. Here goes the story: the Cardinal Louis de Rohan, Grand Almoner of France, Prince of the House of Rohan, was one of the most prominent courtiers in Versailles. As Grand Almoner, he was in charge of many charities and had christened all of the royal children. Yet, as former Ambassador of France to Vienna, he had offended Marie-Antoinette's mother, Empress Maria Theresa, and the Queen would have nothing to do with him, beyond what was strictly required by the étiquette.

Arrives an adventuress, Jeanne de Valois, false Countess de La Motte and true descendant of the former Valois reigning dynasty. She approaches the Cardinal with the assertion that she is a very intimate friend of the Queen, and can, provided that the price be right, reinstate the prelate into Marie-Antoinette's good graces.

At first Jeanne is content with extorting substantial sums of money from the Cardinal, but soon she indicates that the Queen is extremely desirous of acquiring the Diamond Necklace, a jewel of monstrous proportions that the official Court jewelers, Messieurs Boehmer and Bassenge, have been trying to sell, first to Louis XVI, then to every other sovereign in Europe, for over a decade. The Queen, according to Madame de La Motte, had to decline the necklace, when it had been offered to her by the King, because of the overwhelming budget troubles faced by the kingdom, but in fact she cannot live without it. She absolutely wants it. The Cardinal, if he accepts to act as a "front" for the Queen in the purchase, will secure her eternal gratitude.
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