So boring I couldn't finish reading the book after reading about 1/3 of the way into it. I suppose the author was just trying to set the stage, but it just was taking too long. The names of the French aristocrats became very confusing and the characters were not very interesting or likeable.
I found this book an entrancing read. It wasn't the Regent/Pitt diamond that entranced 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.
Baumgold easily glides from the present day (1816) banter between Las Cases and Bonaparte on Saint Helena to the diamond's complex interwoven history with 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 all this is unfolding Baumgold also breathes into life the incredible duality of Napoleon Bonaparte.
If you are familiar with the historical aspects covered you should enjoy the refreshing approach and if this is your introduction to this time period you may have a difficult time deciding who or what you want to learn more about first.