How to Ruin a Queen

Marie Antoinette and the Diamond Necklace Affair

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Regular Price $14.99

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On Sale

Sep 2, 2014

Page Count

408 Pages




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.

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Praise for How to Ruin a Queen

"A murky story of the Ancien Regime including diamonds and sex, brilliantly told."—Antonia Fraser, author of the bestselling Marie Antoinette

"How to Ruin a Queen is a fascinating and impeccably-researched account of one of the great scandals of the 18th century. Jonathan Beckman is a master storyteller whose consummate skills are evident on every page."—Amanda Foreman, author of the bestselling Georgiana

"The narrative is like an ingenious chess game, a work of scholarship and imagination.... Jonathan Beckman is the new Wilkie Collins of biographical history."—Michael Holroyd, award-winning biographer and former president of the Royal Society of Literature

"With its exuberant use of language and subtly ironic storytelling, it is almost as colorful as the scandal it unfolds."—Sunday Times

"Jonathan Beckman skillfully unfolds the intricacies and absurdities of this extraordinary episode...[and] provides us with an engaging and finely-researched study of an affair that, despite having the plot of a frothy operetta, was of genuine historical significance."—Literary Review

"A hell of a tale and Jonathan Beckman gives it all the verve and swagger it deserves."—Spectator
"A lively, engaging narrative...A dramatic tale of intrigue and suspense...Beckman's poetic imagery infuses historical detail with verve and depth, bringing new life to one of the most dramatic episodes in French history." —The Historian
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