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The Diamond

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A dazzling historical novel about the spectacular diamond that passed from the hands of William Pitt's grandfather to the kings of France to Napoleon, linking together many of the most famous personalities of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. A dazzling historical novel about the spectacular diamond that passed from the hands of William Pitt's grandfather to the kings of France to Napoleon, linking together many of the most famous personalities of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.


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A dazzling historical novel about the spectacular diamond that passed from the hands of William Pitt's grandfather to the kings of France to Napoleon, linking together many of the most famous personalities of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. A dazzling historical novel about the spectacular diamond that passed from the hands of William Pitt's grandfather to the kings of France to Napoleon, linking together many of the most famous personalities of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.

30 review for The Diamond

  1. 5 out of 5

    Laura

    This is the story of the Regent diamond, one of the biggest in the world, which belonged to William Pitt's grandfather, Louis XIV, Luis XV, Louis XVI, and Napoleon. This diamond was discovered in India in the end of the seventeenth century and was bought by the governor of the East India Company, Thomas Pitt. It was his son who brought it to London where a Jewish diamond cutter took two years in order to shape it in one the greatest gems that ever existed. The narrator of this story is the Count La This is the story of the Regent diamond, one of the biggest in the world, which belonged to William Pitt's grandfather, Louis XIV, Luis XV, Louis XVI, and Napoleon. This diamond was discovered in India in the end of the seventeenth century and was bought by the governor of the East India Company, Thomas Pitt. It was his son who brought it to London where a Jewish diamond cutter took two years in order to shape it in one the greatest gems that ever existed. The narrator of this story is the Count Las Cases who starts to write the Diamond's story while he was living on Saint Helena where he was writing the memoirs of Napoleon exiled life. Detail of Napoleon's portrait with sword: As a historical background, the reader can follow the French revolution period, the death of Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette, Napoleon’s coronation as emperor of the new empire and his marriage with Josephine and later on, with Marie Louise. The Regent Diamond is now safely displayed in the Louvre. As a first novel, a delightful reading by Julie Baumgold.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Dawn (& Ron)

    This was a book I didn't have many expectations for, had seen and heard little about it, so when I sat down to read it I admit my expectations were low. After all, I thought, there had to be some reason I wasn't hearing anything about this book, right? Wrong, I found this book an entrancing read that somehow slipped past the notice of others. It wasn't the Regent/Pitt diamond that entranced me so much as the story of the French people from the time of the glorious court of the Louis XIV, the Sun This was a book I didn't have many expectations for, had seen and heard little about it, so when I sat down to read it I admit my expectations were low. After all, I thought, there had to be some reason I wasn't hearing anything about this book, right? Wrong, I found this book an entrancing read that somehow slipped past the notice of others. It wasn't the Regent/Pitt diamond that entranced me so much as the story of the French people from the time of the glorious court of the Louis XIV, the Sun King to the downfalls of Napoleon I and Napoleon III. The device of using Count Las Cases; Bonaparte's biographer and fellow Saint Helena exile, a man born an aristocrat and later a devoted follower of Napoleon I, lends an additional air of authenticity to this compelling historical narrative. I would give it 4 1/2 stars if I could. Baumgold easily glides from the present day (1816) banter between Las Cases and Bonaparte on Saint Helena to the diamond's complex interwoven history between France and England. The overwhelming loss, confusion and tragedy of The French Revolution is captured so powerfully and poignantly, perhaps because the reader has walked the palace halls for 100 years before and the Paris streets for almost 100 years after. This immersion allows for a greater understanding of the changes and pains France went through during and for so long after the Revolution. While the reader is seeing the changes in France unfold, Baumgold breathes life into the incredible duality of Napoleon Bonaparte's character. This especially shines in the scenes between Las Cases and Napoleon while they are in exile. It gave me different insights of Napoleon and a better understanding of the strength of his charisma. I also appreciated the inclusion, although only in black and white, of paintings of the many personages upon whom the diamond had touched, some of which include the said diamond. I found myself looking these paintings up, and others mentioned, just to follow the progression of the diamond. I don't know enough of the history to comment on its accuracy but events I did look up were correct. The only fictional character included is used as a bridge from the time of Las Cases death through to the diamond's remaining story. This is the weakest portion of the narrative, and the use of this device may not sit right with some. But using multiple historical persons could easily have bogged down and confused the diamond's later history. The amount of historical data and persons that Baumgold enfolds within her pages could be confusing or overwhelming for some. When I locate my copy I will check to see if there is a character list included. I only wish she had expanded on some of the history and people more, there are so many that you want to spend more time with. This could have easily been fleshed out into a larger book, maybe that was an editorial decision because it just seems the author had more she wanted to say. If you are familiar with the historical aspects covered you should enjoy this refreshing approach and if this is your introduction to this complicated time period you may have a difficult time deciding who or what you want to learn more about first. I hope others start discovering this book, if only so I can know if I am the only one to like it or if I have found a hidden gem.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Sarah Hearn

    Meh. I listened to this on CD, hence the long time it took me to finish it, and there were a lot of occasions when I just didn’t care enough to go on but I did. It was sort of interesting, the history of the French kings and then of the French Revolution was most interesting to me. The diamond itself was almost incidental. I don’t think I’d seek out another book by this author.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Arleigh

    From British occupied India to the Kings of France, the Pitt Diamond – later named the Regent – saw many royal personages throughout its history. It was first discovered by a slave toiling the mines and slipped through several hands of thieves and vagabonds before finding its way to Thomas Pitt, Governor of Fort St. George, who saw the diamond as a means to improve his family’s fortune and status. By this time the diamond was rumored to be bad luck to any who possessed it, which is the premise f From British occupied India to the Kings of France, the Pitt Diamond – later named the Regent – saw many royal personages throughout its history. It was first discovered by a slave toiling the mines and slipped through several hands of thieves and vagabonds before finding its way to Thomas Pitt, Governor of Fort St. George, who saw the diamond as a means to improve his family’s fortune and status. By this time the diamond was rumored to be bad luck to any who possessed it, which is the premise for this intriguing story. Most of the story is told as a history being written by Count Las Cases, an exile on the island of St. Helena and companion to Napoleon. His main duty is to help the emperor write his memoirs, but as a further diversion from the unfriendly British guards and the jealous servants, Las Cases begins research on a subject that intrigues both himself and the emperor. As Las Cases tells the history of the diamond, the emperor reads over his work and inserts his own facts and opinions, though Las Cases writes much in code – most frequently when he comes to the point in the history where Napoleon possessed the stone. There is a chapter near the end called The Emperor Breaks My Code which is among the more humorous parts of the book. Thomas Pitt, grandfather of William Pitt the Elder and great-grandfather of William Pitt the Younger (Napoleon’s ultimate rival), the first owner of repute, tries to sell the diamond to many royals before it is finally purchased by the Duc d’Orleans, who is acting as regent for the boy king, Louis XV. The diamond remains the property of France’s crown jewels through Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette, but is stolen during the French Revolution. Rediscovered, it is locked away by the new government and then comes into the hands of Napoleon, who refuses to give this one diamond to his jewel-obsessed wife, Josephine. Into the hilts of several swords it went, until his final exile to St. Helena. After Napoleon, as the government swayed from kingdom to empire under the remaining Bourbons and Bonapartes, the Regent diamond adorned the ruling power and was finally interred at the Louvre museum. This book, though only 304 pages, is a hefty read and not for those who enjoy light, easy novels. In fact, it seems more like a non-fiction biography most of the time. I have researched some of the events mentioned and for the most part it is accurate, though the author has a note at the beginning that states there is fiction intermingled. I enjoyed this book immensely and recommend it to those interested in the history of France. There are many details from the courts of Louis XIV, Louis XV, Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette as well as the courts of surrounding countries. The French Revolution is seen through the eyes of an émigré and, of course, directly after is the time of Napoleon. Most interesting to me is the history after Napoleon, as I was not familiar at all with this area of history and I learned much about the times. From fashion to court etiquette, through desperation and debauchery, this is truly an amazing story – not just about a diamond, but about the people whose lives were affected by it.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Laszlo

    Deep historical details, enjoyed every sentence! Thanks Laszlo

  6. 5 out of 5

    Jordan Taylor

    Spanning two centuries, this book tells the story of the famous Regent Diamond, and the many historical figures involved with it, including Napoleon Bonaparte, Marie Antoinette, and Louis XIV. The diamond is discovered by a miner in Africa, and falls into the hands of the Pitt family. After cutting the diamond into perfection, the Pitts have a hard time finding a buyer. The stone is so priceless, even kings are unable to afford it. When the stone is bought at last, it goes to France. Going from Spanning two centuries, this book tells the story of the famous Regent Diamond, and the many historical figures involved with it, including Napoleon Bonaparte, Marie Antoinette, and Louis XIV. The diamond is discovered by a miner in Africa, and falls into the hands of the Pitt family. After cutting the diamond into perfection, the Pitts have a hard time finding a buyer. The stone is so priceless, even kings are unable to afford it. When the stone is bought at last, it goes to France. Going from a court wonder to gathering dust in the treasury numerous times, the Regent survives the French Revolution (when it is stolen by commoners) and the Napoleonic Wars. This book was written very factually, which an incredible amount of detail. You can tell that little of this book is fiction, and it very often reads like a history book. All of the history fascinated me, and I personally love books presented like this. However, if that is not your taste in reading, this probably is not the book for you. In the beginning, this book was very interesting. The complex historical depth, with just the tiniest dash of fiction, was very well done. However, the other three quarters of the book grew dull, and there were only a few scenes here and there that interested me. The description of the French Revolution was very good, but it is bordered by pages and pages of yawns. This isn't exactly a long book, but that doesn't stop it from feeling like it, and the author was often going nowhere. I know that with this type of story, it is not realistic to expect a conventional plot-line. However, this book also lacked vision. I wanted very much for the Regent diamond to become a sort of character in the book, like the Ring in "The Lord of the Rings." We are always, always aware of the ring's presence in the story. Here, nothing even close. Often, we would be shown events that had little or nothing to do with the diamond, except that such and such person had seen it once in their lives, or something so insignificant as that. I never actually cared enough about the diamond. It almost seemed that the author had used the diamond to just write an account of France's history, and wasn't actually concerned all that much with the jewel. The Regent was at first portrayed as possibly cursed, which was what intrigued me the most when I read the inside cover. The slave who steals the diamond from the mines cuts his leg open and hides the diamond inside, only to be killed by a man who wants it for himself. At this point in the story, the author says that the diamond "already had blood on it." A curse is mentioned here and there, but this possible aspect of the story dwindles away after a few pages. All in all, this book was a little below average.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Sherrill Watson

    Carefully researched version of the history and intrigues of The Regency, one of the largest diamonds in the world, now in the Louvre. Beginning with a toady at Napolean's banishment to Elba, researching backward to William Pitt, forward to the Louvre, this is a historical novel about a certain diamond, told by those who are / were fascinated by it. The dissolution of the French Monarchy was the cause of it's undoing. "Architects widened doors for the panniers the women wore, beauty spots covere Carefully researched version of the history and intrigues of The Regency, one of the largest diamonds in the world, now in the Louvre. Beginning with a toady at Napolean's banishment to Elba, researching backward to William Pitt, forward to the Louvre, this is a historical novel about a certain diamond, told by those who are / were fascinated by it. The dissolution of the French Monarchy was the cause of it's undoing. "Architects widened doors for the panniers the women wore, beauty spots covered the face and the next day were banished. Gold bronze crawled up the legs of the furniture and almost completely took it over, invading, encrusting . . . The ladies flew along in lose bodices, noses dirty from snuff, with their hair high as their upstretched arm, then short and curled and lightly powdered." And that was only women. Habits, eating, not to mention sexuality were given free rein. And thoroughly described during each period of history. There are a couple of photos that are interesting, but no credit is given that I could find. I hope all the French weren't doing those things. No wonder "let them eat cake."!

  8. 4 out of 5

    Anjanet Mort

    This book uses a diamond to tell the story of the birth of the French revoloution, following the diamond instead of following a character. The idea of using an inanimate object to tell how the revolution could start and then fall was a good idea, but it was poorly executed. The book jumped around too much in its timeline; and too much from the narrator doing the research to write the diamond, napolean's personal comments, and the annotiations from "Abraham". There were brief periods where the auth This book uses a diamond to tell the story of the birth of the French revoloution, following the diamond instead of following a character. The idea of using an inanimate object to tell how the revolution could start and then fall was a good idea, but it was poorly executed. The book jumped around too much in its timeline; and too much from the narrator doing the research to write the diamond, napolean's personal comments, and the annotiations from "Abraham". There were brief periods where the author did a good job on having you feel the farcity and corruptness of the french court and kings...but it was too close in theme to the corruptness of riches in general...and it just didn't work....places all the reasons on the french revolution on the desires of excess. Blah....Blah...blah... Of course, maybe I just don't like the book because a gal would never ever say a diamond could be bad luck!

  9. 4 out of 5

    Mallory

    This was one of the dullest books I have ever read. Terrifically boring, absolutely no pace whatsoever - the only good thing about it is how sleepy it made me before bed. Considering the subject of the novel (the Regent diamond, one of the largest in the world) and the characters from history that surround it (Marie Antoinette, Napoleon I, Thomas Pitt), I was very disappointed in how uninteresting it all was. It had looked so promising, too. The narrative just drags along and is too random and a This was one of the dullest books I have ever read. Terrifically boring, absolutely no pace whatsoever - the only good thing about it is how sleepy it made me before bed. Considering the subject of the novel (the Regent diamond, one of the largest in the world) and the characters from history that surround it (Marie Antoinette, Napoleon I, Thomas Pitt), I was very disappointed in how uninteresting it all was. It had looked so promising, too. The narrative just drags along and is too random and all over the place. This was a library booksale item from awhile ago, so the bright side of it is that I only wasted 50 cents.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Summers

    This was interesting, but more a story around the culture of France in the 1700's & early 1800's so the history was somewhat of an aside ... and only from the view looking in of the kings and their courts. But, it was still worth listening to. At the same time, I watched a few movies of the same era and all of them together helped with understanding French House of Bourbon a little better, not a lot, but a little. This was interesting, but more a story around the culture of France in the 1700's & early 1800's so the history was somewhat of an aside ... and only from the view looking in of the kings and their courts. But, it was still worth listening to. At the same time, I watched a few movies of the same era and all of them together helped with understanding French House of Bourbon a little better, not a lot, but a little.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Marianne

    Written from the perspective of a French nobleman who has been exiled with Napoleon. He follows the ownership of a famous diamond, called the Regent, through several generations up until the time it comes into the possession of Napoleon. It's not an easy read. I find a few pages are all I can manage at a sitting, but it's an interesting way to get a handle on 17th and 18th Century French history. Written from the perspective of a French nobleman who has been exiled with Napoleon. He follows the ownership of a famous diamond, called the Regent, through several generations up until the time it comes into the possession of Napoleon. It's not an easy read. I find a few pages are all I can manage at a sitting, but it's an interesting way to get a handle on 17th and 18th Century French history.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Louise

    Using the Regent Diamond of France, the author gives us a picture of the history of British Imperialism in India, the rise and fall of Napolean and the Bourbons. Same device as the Girl in Hyacinth Blue. This book could have used one more edit to make it clearer and cleaner prose. Good historical fiction

  13. 5 out of 5

    Windy

    If I were in SA still, this is the book I would choose to read for book club. Fantastic perspective of the french revolution! "Never interrupt your enemy when he is making a fool of himself" -Napoleon Bonaparte If I were in SA still, this is the book I would choose to read for book club. Fantastic perspective of the french revolution! "Never interrupt your enemy when he is making a fool of himself" -Napoleon Bonaparte

  14. 5 out of 5

    Molly

    The first 3/4 of the book are an entertaining historical tale of travels and adventures involving a huge diamond, Le Regent, in pre- and post-revolutionary France. The last section is bizarre and misplaced, seemingly tacked on in order to make the book longer. But not a bad read.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Jay

    Eh, I just couldn't get into this and I didn't like the way it was written as a half memoir, half biography, all fiction mess. Eh, I just couldn't get into this and I didn't like the way it was written as a half memoir, half biography, all fiction mess.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Jennifer

    This ended up being rather boring. There wasn't much of a plot. This ended up being rather boring. There wasn't much of a plot.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Suziqoregon

    My blog post about this book is at this link. My blog post about this book is at this link.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Beth

    I listen to books on tape. I couldn't listen to this one because I didn't care for the reader and/or the accent. I listen to books on tape. I couldn't listen to this one because I didn't care for the reader and/or the accent.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Samantha

    Ugh. Couldn't even finish it. Don't bother. Ugh. Couldn't even finish it. Don't bother.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Louisa

    I loved it, a bit confusing but loves the way how story went from Napoleon down to Louis xv and talk of the life of the French Court and the conflict between the French and The British .

  21. 4 out of 5

    Annette

    This is by far the "book of the year" !!! This is by far the "book of the year" !!!

  22. 5 out of 5

    Megan

    The story is very interesting, winding through several lives and generations but it is rather slow moving.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Nicole

  24. 5 out of 5

    Adeliese Baumann

  25. 4 out of 5

    Sarah Housknecht

  26. 4 out of 5

    Katherine

  27. 5 out of 5

    Stephanie

  28. 5 out of 5

    Joni

  29. 4 out of 5

    Sarah Faulkner

  30. 4 out of 5

    Michelle

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