Today we're excited to spotlight The Jewel Thief by Jeannie Mobley.
Read on for more about Jeannie and her book, an guest post, plus an giveaway!
Meet Jeannie Mobley!
Jeannie Mobley has spent much of her life daydreaming herself into other centuries. This tendency has led her to multiple degrees in history and anthropology, and a passion for writing fiction. She is the author of three historical middle grade novels (Katerina's Wish (2012, McElderry), Searching for Silverheels (2014, McElderry), and Bobby Lee Claremont and the Criminal Element (2017, Holiday House), which have received starred reviews from Booklist, Kirkus Reviews, Publishers Weekly, and Library Media Connection. Other honors include the Willa Award, Colorado Book Award, Junior Library Guild Selection, and inclusion on numbers notable lists, including the Amelia Bloomer List for Feminist Literature, Library of Congress 52 Great Reads List, the New York Public Library Notables, the Jefferson Cup List for Historical Fiction, as well as a variety of state lists. Her favorite stories are those of ordinary people who achieve the extraordinary. She is currently a professor of anthropology and department chair at a college in northern Colorado.
Meet The Jewel Thief!
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.
~ Guest Post ~
Top Five Facts about Jewelry Making in the 17th Century, as Portrayed in The Jewel Thief
I am not an expert on the history of gems or gem cutting, but one of the great things about writing historical fiction is getting to learn interesting things on topics I’d never considered before. While writing THE JEWEL THIEF, a novel based on the early history of the Hope Diamond, I dug into the early history of diamonds and jewelry, and here are five interesting things I learned:
- A single stone can be more than one famous diamond. This strikes me as a bit odd. I mean, if you painted a mustache on the Mona Lisa, she’d still be the Mona Lisa, wouldn’t she? But with famous diamonds, when they are cut into a distinctive shape, they are given a name, that is often changed should they be recut into a different shape. In the case of the gem in THE JEWEL THIEF, it has been three different famous diamonds through time: The Tavernier Violet in its uncut form, the French Blue as it was cut for Louis XIV, and the Hope Diamond in its present form. This makes it difficult to follow a single stone through time, which is sometimes why it was done. The owners of the Hope Diamond didn’t really want people to know it was the French Blue, stolen from the French Treasury.
- Cut diamonds are famous, but the people who cut them are not: Unlike painters and sculptors of the period, the artists behind the jewelry of the 17th century are generally not known. In the case of the French Blue diamond, we know that Louis XIV’s crown jeweler was named Sieur Jean Pitau, and that it took him two years to cut the diamond, but we know little else about him or his other works. It’s a little sad that these amazing craftsmen don’t get their due, but for me it proved convenient to have the freedom to craft them into the characters I wanted them to be.
- Diamonds weren’t always considered the greatest of gemstones. Diamonds get their extraordinary sparkle from the style of cut used today, with facets both on the upper and lower surfaces (the crown and pavilion) of the stone. That style of cut was invented in the 17th century, an invention that forms much of the premise of THE JEWEL THIEF. Prior to that time, diamonds were imported into Europe and used in jewelry, but were not considered superior to other gem stones by European monarchs, as they often appeared dull when set beside colored stones like rubies.
- Which leads to my fourth and slightly ironic interesting fact about diamonds: cutting a diamond reduces its size, sometimes drastically, but increases its value. Take, for example, the French Blue, as it appears in THE JEWEL THIEF. It arrived in France as the uncut Tavernier Violet, weighing around 115 carats. Cutting it into the French Blue meant reducing it to approximately 68 carats, but historians estimate, that it tripled in value. It’s a classic case of quality over quantity. So, Louis XIV got his money’s worth out of having the stone cut, but imaging the pressure—being ordered by the French Crown to cut the diamond, and realizing that will mean reducing its celebrated size by forty percent. Yikes!
- The history of Jews in Europe and the history of diamonds is closely linked, for a very long time. This goes back to the medieval practice that Christians could not be money lenders, which led the Jewish populations of Europe to become involved in all matters relating to gold and gems, including craftsmanship. When the Spanish Inquisition drove the Jews out of Spain and Portugal, many skilled gold and gem smiths took refuge in the Netherlands and Belgium, contributing to the prominence of cities like Amsterdam and Antwerp in the diamond trade today. I chose to include Jewish craftsmen who are both sought out and reviled in THE JEWEL THIEF because I think it is a part of Jewish history that doesn’t receive a great deal of attention. It is certainly an element of history that has repeated itself and still feels relevant today in debates over immigration and national identity.
The Jewel Thief
By: Jeannie Mobley
Publisher: Viking BYR
Release Date: May 26th, 2020
One winner will receive a copy of The Jewel Thief (Jeannie Mobley) ~ (US Only)
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