The Queen's Embroiderer by Joan DeJean
A True Story of Paris, Lovers, Swindlers, and the First Stock Market Crisis

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Given the nature of the family, the story is often so dour that sometimes only the historical minutiae keep you going. (If you ever wanted to know more about the fascinating probate-inventory process of 18th-century France, you're in luck.)
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Synopsis

From the author of How Paris Became Paris, a sweeping history of high finance, the origins of high fashion, and a pair of star-crossed lovers in 18th-century France.

Paris, 1719. The stock market is surging and the world's first millionaires are buying everything in sight. Against this backdrop, two families, the Magoulets and the Chevrots, rose to prominence only to plummet in the first stock market crash. One family built its name on the burgeoning financial industry, the other as master embroiderers for Queen Marie-Thérèse and her husband, King Louis XIV. Both patriarchs were ruthless money-mongers, determined to strike it rich by arranging marriages for their children.

But in a Shakespearean twist, two of their children fell in love. To remain together, Louise Magoulet and Louis Chevrot fought their fathers' rage and abuse. A real-life heroine, Louise took on Magoulet, Chevrot, the police, an army regiment, and the French Indies Company to stay with the man she loved.

Following these families from 1600 until the Revolution of 1789, Joan DeJean recreates the larger-than-life personalities of Versailles, where displaying wealth was a power game; the sordid cells of the Bastille; the Louisiana territory, where Frenchwomen were forcibly sent to marry colonists; and the legendary "Wall Street of Paris," Rue Quincampoix, a world of high finance uncannily similar to what we know now. The Queen's Embroiderer is both a story of star-crossed love in the most beautiful city in the world and a cautionary tale of greed and the dangerous lure of windfall profits. And every bit of it is true.

 

About Joan DeJean

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Joan DeJean, author of seven previous books on French literature, history, and culture during the reign of Louis XIV, is Trustee Professor of French at the University of Pennsylvania, where she has taught for the past fifteen years. She has also held positions at both Princeton and Yale. Bicultural, she shuttles regularly between her homes in Philadelphia and Paris, with her finger on the pulse of both venues.
 
Published May 1, 2018 by Bloomsbury Publishing. 400 pages
Genres: Business & Economics, History, Arts & Photography, Travel. Non-fiction
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Reviewed by Genevieve Valentine on May 06 2018

Given the nature of the family, the story is often so dour that sometimes only the historical minutiae keep you going. (If you ever wanted to know more about the fascinating probate-inventory process of 18th-century France, you're in luck.)

Read Full Review of The Queen's Embroiderer: A Tr... | See more reviews from NPR

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