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La Grande Therese : The Greatest Scandal of…

La Grande Therese : The Greatest Scandal of the Century

by Hilary Spurling

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855207,080 (2.9)2



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I once sat next to Hilary Spurling at a dinner but this book never came up in the conversation.
  jon1lambert | Feb 7, 2009 |
3421. La Grande Therese The Greatest Scandal of the Century, by Hilary Spurling (read Mar 19, 2001) This book, by the author of a good biography of Paul Scott (which I read with appreciation on Nov 10, 1991), tells of Therese (nee Daurignac) Humbert, who was born in 1856 and was the central figure in what is called the Humbert Swindle. It is a fantastic story, but this book does not tell it well, the chronology being confused and the documentation sparse. One of the two least worthwhile books I read this month. (The other was The Triple Crown, by Valerie Pirie.) ( )
  Schmerguls | Nov 24, 2007 |
Interesting on the background of the case (strongly hostile to some of the lawyers involved) but very weak on developments of the case itself. ( )
  antiquary | Sep 4, 2007 |
a romp through the story of a remarkable confidence trickster - quick and easy to read, but I would have liked a little more context - why was this a scandal that risked bringing down the Third Republic? ( )
  wandering_star | Jul 7, 2007 |
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 006019622X, Hardcover)

Hilary Spurling's masterful biography The Unknown Matisse mentioned the little-known story of Thérèse Humbert, the woman who brought financial disgrace on the great artist's family. In La Grande Thérèse, she devotes an entire book--slim though it is--to this fascinating subject. A hundred years ago the fabulously wealthy Thérèse Humbert and her husband lived like royalty on a fashionable street in Paris, where they employed Matisse's parents-in-law as servants. Thérèse let it be known that she had had an even wealthier American lover, and she paid for her extravagant lifestyle by borrowing money against the legacy he'd left her. But his children disputed the will, she claimed, and the subsequent lawsuits dragged on for years. Meanwhile the Humberts lived it up, socializing with the great and the good and running up debts all the while. In this wittily piquant morality tale, Spurling describes the spectacular rise and fall of a cunning French peasant girl with a wicked imagination and irresistible powers of persuasion. Thérèse died in disgrace and without a penny, but her hoax had fooled an entire society. As told by Spurling, her story is as rich and entertaining as anything by Dickens or Zola. --Lilian Pizzichini

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:17:30 -0400)

(see all 3 descriptions)

The?re??se Humbert's salon captivated fin-de-sie??cle Paris. Her dazzling wealth, as the illegitimate daughter of an American billionaire, was fabled. But it was all a hoax. 'La Grande The?re??se' looks at her life and times.

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