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Roseanna M. White
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How to Ruin a Queen: Marie Antoinette and the Diamond Necklace Affair by Jonathan Beckman

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

Absolutely fascinating!! Many years ago, my husband and I watched a movie starring Hillary Swank titled The Affair of the Necklace. I was captivated. Not so much by the movie but by the true tale of scandal, back-stabbing, conniving, and revenge. As I've stated more than once, history intrigues me. I had to learn more about the story behind the affair of the necklace. Sadly, I must've got sidetracked because I never investigated this subject further. Until...


How to Ruin a Queen: Marie Antoinette and the Diamond Necklace Affair by Jonathan Beckman. It's a doozy of a tale! And, depending on who is to be believed, it's a matter that helped seal the fate and hatred of Marie Antoinette. After the diamond scandal, the Queen became even more hated and gossip swirled. All thanks to the con of Jeanne de la Motte, a self proclaimed countess.


Jeanne de la Motte, or Jeanne de Saint-Rémy de Valois, wanted her lands and titled returned to her. She always claimed they were stolen from her family and that she was a descendant of the Valois royal family through an illegitimate son of King Henry II. Beckman speculates that perhaps de la Motte plans the elaborate ruse involving the diamond necklace to exact her revenge on the royal family for neglecting to acknowledge her familial claims or failing to include her in the royal circle that de la Motte longed to be part of. Of course, Jeanne needed assistance to pull off such a heist. Cardinal de Rohan, who was trying to regain the Queen's favour and become one of the King's ministers, was the perfect pawn. Jeanne also employed the assistance of  Rétaux de Villette, probably a lover of de la Motte,  and a prostitute named Nicole Leguay, who bared a striking resemblance to the Queen. With all the players in place, Jeanne orchestrates a royal deception that takes place in the gardens of the Palace of Versailles, August 1784. For those that do not know the story of the affair of the necklace, I shall stop here. I can't give it all away! Although Beckman's book is scholarly at times, it never fails to entertain and every question I ever had about the affair of the necklace has been answered and explained in a book I thouroughly enjoyed. I DO recommend this for all history buffs. 


I extend my thanks to NetGalley and Perseus Books Group, Da Capo Press for sharing this wonderful DRC with me.




The diamond necklace was commissioned by Louis XV for his mistress, Madame du Barry,at the estimated cost of 2,000,000 livres.  At the death of the King, the necklace was unpaid for, almost bankrupting the crown jewellers,  Bohmer and Bassenge,  and leading to various unsuccessful schemes to secure a sale to Queen Marie-Antoinette.





Jeanne de Saint-Rémy de Valois, also known as Jeanne de la Motte.






Louis René Édouard de Rohan known as Cardinal de Rohan



 Marie Antoinette, Queen of France
Above:The State Portrait by Vigée-Lebrun (1787) of Marie Antoinette and her children Marie Thérèse, Louis Charles (on her lap), and Louis Joseph, was meant to help her reputation by depicting her as a mother and in simple, yet stately attire.


Happy Reading!!