cover image The Jewel Thief

The Jewel Thief

Jeannie Mobley. Viking, $18.99 (368p) ISBN 978-1-9848-3741-7

Mobley (Bobby Lee Claremont and the Criminal Element) crafts her own Hope Diamond legend, one filled with romance and intrigue. After Juliette Pitau, 16, is arrested for stealing King Louis XIV’s Tavernier Violet, a massive blue-tinted diamond, she attempts to avoid execution by recounting the path that forced her into thievery. Mobley shifts from Juliette’s bare Bastille cell to richly drawn flashbacks of her life as daughter of the court’s esteemed crown jeweler. When her despairing father suggests that the diamond cannot be cut to satisfy the king, Juliette takes matters into her own hands, using strategic allies and cunning to outwit those eager for her family’s ruin. Along the way, she meets with a level of tragedy and abuse unmatched by the novel’s final happily- ever-after. While the romantic emphasis between Juliette and her confessor, René Relieur, can feel overworked (“I can feel his own urgency now pressed against me”), Mobley’s account of diamond cutting is fascinating, and her attention to the political and social tensions of the time, particularly the treatment of Jews in 17th-century France, adds a pointed layer of consequence to the novel. Ages 12–up. [em]Agent: Jennifer Weltz, Jean V. Naggar Literary. (May) [/em]