Monday, January 25, 2021

"The Jewel Thief"

Jeannie Mobley has spent much of her life daydreaming herself into other centuries. This tendency has led her to multiple degrees in history and anthropology, and a passion for writing fiction. She is the author of three historical middle grade novels: Katerina’s Wish (2012), Searching for Silverheels (2014,), and Bobby Lee Claremont and the Criminal Element (201), which have received starred reviews from Booklist, Kirkus Reviews, Publishers Weekly, and Library Media Connection. Other honors include the Willa Award, Colorado Book Award, Junior Library Guild Selection, and inclusion on a number of notable lists, including the Amelia Bloomer List for Feminist Literature, Library of Congress 52 Great Reads List, the New York Public Library Notables, the Jefferson Cup List for Historical Fiction, as well as a variety of state lists. Her favorite stories are those of ordinary people who achieve the extraordinary. She is currently a professor of anthropology and department chair at a college in northern Colorado.

Mobley applied the Page 69 Test to her 2020 novel, The Jewel Thief, and reported the following:
Page 69 of The Jewel Thief is an interesting entry into what the book is about. On this page, we see the main character, Juliette Pitau, forced to think fast and improvise in order to protect her father’s business interests. Juliette is the daughter of the crown jeweler of France, who has left Paris in a desperate attempt to find someone who can teach him a new technology in gem cutting so that he can cut the French Blue diamond for Louis XIV.

On page 69, we see Juliette, who is left alone in Paris, trying to appease a demand from the king’s envoy without giving away the secret that her father has not done any work on the commission. In the first line on the page, Juliette says, “Papa will not offer the king anything less than perfection, monsieur,” demonstrating her fierce loyalty to her father which drives many of her actions in the book.

The scene is an excellent window into other aspects of Juliette’s character as well: she is smart and quick thinking, and has her own ambitions for the diamond. It also shows the reader how these traits are both Juliette’s strength and her weakness. On page 69, when her efforts to send the envoy away empty-handed fail, she chooses to substitute her own drawings and plans in order to protect her father’s secrets, which only creates a bigger problem she is going to have to solve later on.

This is something that happens to Juliette throughout the book—her solution to one problem drives her on to a newer, bigger, more dangerous problem that she must work through if she is to save herself and her father. This is all neatly encapsulated in the scene on page 69. Smaller details in the scene, like use of the word monsieur in dialog indicate the setting in France, and Juliette’s worries about the unkempt nature of the home indicate that there is more she is hiding.

So all in all, much to my surprise, the Page 69 test does a nice job in The Jewel Thief, of giving the reader some hints to the overall nature of the story.
My Book, The Movie: The Jewel Thief.

--Marshal Zeringue