Featured Review: The Jewel Thief (Jeannie Mobley)
About This Book:
A lush, slow-burn romance set in 17th century France, and centered around the broken history of the Hope Diamond-- the high-society intrigue of Richelle Mead's Glittering Court series meets the romance of Melissa de la Cruz's Alex and Eliza. In the depths of the Bastille, sixteen-year-old Juliet Pitau sits cold and filthy in her cell. Charged with stealing what has come to be known as the Hope Diamond from King Louis XIV, she has one final chance to convince the King that her motives were pure. If she fails, this night may be her last. Recording her confession is Rene, a scribe for the king and the man she loves. But Rene won't even look her way, let alone begin to forgive her for her betrayal of him. Before Juliet was imprisoned, she was the daughter of the finest gem cutter in all of Paris. The young King Louis XIV hand-selected Jean Pitau to be his crown jeweler, the only man who could make him shine like the sun. When Louis purchases the Tavernier Violet, a large, deep-blue diamond the likes of which the French court has never seen, Jean is tasked with turning it brilliant. But Juliet's father has never cut a diamond quite like this--and shaping it is risky business. While Jean spirals into depression, Juliet takes it upon herself to have the diamond cut for the King. But with every misstep, she brings her family closer to ruin, and closer to probable death at morning's light once Louis casts his sentence.
*Review Contributed By Elisha Jachetti Staff Reviewer*
THE JEWEL THIEF by Jeannie Mobley is a YA Historical Fiction novel, set in Paris, France during the reign of the Sun King. Juliette is the daughter of the King’s crown jeweler, which seems like an illustrious position, but in truth is quite dangerous. Jean, Juliette’s father, realizes the risk of not meeting King Louis XIV’s expectations, when he’s commissioned to cut the Tavernier Violet. Due to its odd shape, the task of turning the diamond brilliant is almost impossible. The more Jean tries to find a solution, the more depressed he becomes, to the point that Juliette must take over the work. Yet, with the best of intentions, Juliette’s actions land her in the Bastille, with the threat of execution the next day. What’s worse is that Rene, the man she loves, now feels betrayed by her. In order to convince him she’s the girl he thought she was, and to get pardoned by the King, Juliette must make a confession. However, it may be too little, too late on both accounts.
I absolutely love this book. There’s romance, a quasi-heist, political intrigue, and royalty— what more could I possibly want? With that being said, the most compelling element of the story is the love between Juliette and Rene. There are so many swoon-worthy moments, which are dramatized by how the book is structured. By flipping back and forth in time, Juliette has to win Rene back, while simultaneously, the audience gets to see them fall for each other. This creates tension. Mobley also successfully shows us how their love transcends rank and does this in quite a clever way.
My other favorite element of this book is the Benzacars. Isaac and his grandfather are such dynamic characters, and the injustice served to them breaks my heart. Their story, though fictional, is presumably an experience many can relate to, even today, which is part of the reason why I love historical fiction novels. They remind us of the mistakes we keep making as a society. The Benzacar plotline allows us to see some of the religious politics of the time, not just in France, but in other countries as well.
To be thorough, I must mention that the stakes feel quite low throughout the novel. Of course, it is life or death for Juliette, but I know from the beginning she’ll make out just fine. This may be a product of Juliette’s demeanor or the fact that we as the audience don’t viscerally sense time slipping away for her. I also don’t believe that Juliette would be able to do all that she physically does with broken ribs. However, despite these minor points, this is a book I could read again and again.
THE JEWEL THIEF is a fictional origin story of the Hope Diamond, but more than that, it is a tale of a girl who is willing to risk it all for the ones she loves. Anyone who is looking to get completely swept away by a story will enjoy this one.
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