Sunday, May 13, 2018

Joan DeJean

Joan DeJean's new book is The Queen's Embroiderer: A True Story of Paris, Lovers, Swindlers, and the First Stock Market Crisis. From her Q&A with Deborah Kalb:

Q: How did you learn about the story of the Magoulet and Chevrot families, and at what point did you decide you’d write a book about them?

A: I began one day—I was doing something that I thought would be a tiny project on the first luxury shops in Paris. I went to the archives—I imagined it would be an afternoon.

Instead, I found two documents. The first was [Jean Magoulet’s] appointment as Royal Embroiderer, and then the second was a woman’s name, with the same last name. The woman with the same last name was shipped to Louisiana in 1719. That meant she was declared undesirable.

I found a police file on the young women’s address and deportation, so the outline of the story was there. It was incredible that the daughter of such a high-ranking person would end up like this. I knew [the story] would be wonderful, but it seemed so hard. I walked away.

The next time I showed up at the front desk [of the archives, a woman who worked there] said, What are you doing? I said, I’m leaving it. She said, You can’t!

I knew how hard it would be. But...[read on]
The Page 99 Test: How Paris Became Paris.

--Marshal Zeringue