The Jewel Thief is an intriguing look into the opulent world of Louis the XIV of France and his fascination, or some would say fanaticism of having the largest and most opulent jewels of the period.
Our story is that of Juliette. She is the only daughter of a gem-cutter whose has risen in rank to be the King’s personal stone cutter. Juliette is an easy relatable character. She wants to protect her family and do well, but in her efforts to do so bungles things more then once and gets herself in quite a predicament. The remaining cast of characters are well-defined, and I appreciated that the circle was kept relatively small which allowed for a keener focus on the main character with minimal distraction. It was easy to see good guy from bad guy and the lines where never blurred.
The era of the Sun King was one in which the author could have spent a great deal of time discussing politics, over the top rooms and palaces, and a scene of general debauchery. Here, however, the author gives just enough detail to support the story but doesn’t spend an abundance of time on all the opulence. I think the story is much better for it. It allows the reader to be more focused on the working-class neighborhoods and workshops and lends credibility to the story in terms of believable-ness.
This story is told in the manner of the main character relating the story to a scribe. The story flows seamlessly and even in places where the telling jumps from first person narrative to the present timeline, it does not seem disjointed or confusing. I did get a little lost when it came to how much time had passed from point A to point B, but the author does a good job of adding snippets here and there about seasons or a sentence on the passage of time to give a mile-marker, which was of great help.
Overall, this is a beautifully done book and a good story with likable characters and interesting plot twists that will keep you turning pages until the end. Loosely based on history, it is a good read for those who enjoy historical fiction and intrigue.
Review of an Advance Reading Copy
This book was sent to Compass Book Ratings for review by Viking Books for Young Readers
Profanity/Language: 2 mild obscenities; 4 derogatory names; 2 scatological words.
Violence/Gore: Injuries from a beating including broken ribs and a badly burned hand; death from illness; bloody, blistered hand depicted; stone thrown at person’s head and just glances off; bottle smashed into fire; person held forcibly by elbow; knee to man’s groin; 4 verbal threats.
Sex/Nudity: Brush of leg or fingertips (3); 5 instances of hand holding; 6 kisses to hand, forehead or face; 2 mentions of woman’s bare nipples; 2 page scene of man trying to illicit sex for information; arm around shoulders; 2 hugs; 8 kisses; man’s hands on woman’s clothed breasts; woman’s hands on man’s bare chest and back; sex with minimal detail between consenting adults.
Mature Subject Matter:
Religious conflict, death, addictions, ethics, stealing.
Alcohol / Drug Use:
Adults drink wine and smoke cigars.