- The Book
- Live Readings
"There are several ways a novel of this scope and period could go wrong, and Wise is careful to avoid them all. There’s an enormous amount of research in this book (historical characters like Cardinals Richelieu and Mazarin, and Louis XIV appear frequently)—readers are toured from top to bottom of the world of pre-modern gemology, and the period details of court and travel are scrupulous in their rendering—and, yet, everything is accomplished with such a deft touch that readers will be eagerly turning pages."
Steve Donoghue, The Historical Novel Review
Amazon 5 stars
"Wise does an amazing job of describing the physical conditions of travel, risky at best, and the cultural environments Tavernier has to navigate. The best historical novels whisk you away to another time and place and give you a real sense of being there. Wise is a master at this. I was not familiar with this character before I read the book, and I found it very helpful that he includes an appendix which explains the fictional aspects of the story. If you like historical fiction, this book is a must read. I couldn't put it down!"
A fine piece of historical fiction, highly recommended, December 8, 2009
"Gems have always been items of great worth. "The French Blue" tells a fictionalized story of the historic French blue diamond and the man who brought it to France, Jean-Baptiste Tavernier and his associate, Madeleine de Goisse, who traveled throughout India and Persia. The French blue is the focus of the story, but the adventures of Jean and Madeleine are what keeps the story moving. "The French Blue" is a fine piece of historical fiction, highly recommended."
Midwest Book Review
"Wise has crafted a fascinating trip back through time for any dedicated armchair traveler."
Leslie Ann Beck, Berkshire Living
"The author began with Tavernier’s famous memoir and researched other historical documents to weave a fascinating tale of adventure and global intrigue. Those who wonder what life was like during the mid-17th century will find the fictional scenarios quite plausible, delivered in an entertaining, easy-to-read manner"
Scott Sucher, Gems & Gemology
Amazon 5 star Reviewer
"Wise is a great writer. He has a gift for transporting his readers to both faraway places and faraway times. Sometimes, historical novels are not fully divorced from modernity, with excessively modern protagonists with modern ideas. Wise's Jean Baptiste Tavernier is decidedly not modern. Jean Baptiste's accounts of his encounters with the natives often smack of ethnocentrism. However, this is a great strength, as a seventeenth century man - even one as worldly as Tavernier - would have viewed the world through a mindset of European superiority."
"In short, this novel is so much more than a novel about the gem trade. It is a novel about the growth of colonialism, about empires that no longer exist, about travel and ambition and fearlessness."
In the tradition of Clavell – a book you never want to end...,
"I love historical fiction; I love jewelry; I love hefty books that you can "live with" for awhile. This book has all of that and so much more.
Like Clavell novels, Shogon, this book introduces you to characters that become part of your life. The writing style is easy to read but not in a "bodice ripper" style. The author avoids the mistake that many first time novelists make in trying to be too cute with their dialogue and/or over-pretentious prose. He creates a setting where you feel like you are going on the journey along with the characters -- you can feel yourself as being part of that time.
The author definitely has done his research and you do come away feeling like you have really learned something -- both about history and the gem industry. Of course, since Richard Wise is an expert in gemology in real life, this is not surprising. I do hope that he will continue to write fiction. The wonderful thing about the James Clavell saga is that it kept going and going so you could follow it. You truly become emotionally invested in it. I hope that Wise is able to do the same -- he is off to a great start.
As a side note, the book itself is simply beautiful -- while I read it on my Kindle, I also have the physical book and the dust jacket, the paper quality, the type-face... it is not a "cheaply published" book that so many hardcovers are these days. I know this is a small thing but it just really adds to the overall "wow-factor" of the book."
Mahler 22nd, Amazon Top 100 Reviewer
"This is one thoroughly researched book... His handling of Tavernier's journeys, the places he goes, the people he meets, and his method of locating and acquiring literally tens of thousands of jewels provides a depth of authenticity to rival the best historical novelists. Even his description of shipboard travel and battle is richly detailed without being tiresome."
Nan Hawthorn, The historical Novel Review
"The book has dozens of illustrations including Tavernier’s own drawings of extraordinary gemstones. Wise is an accomplished gemologist and writes from a position of authority on the subject. His descriptions of gems, pearls and jewelry are historically accurate and elegantly delivered. Fellow professionals will enjoy period descriptors such as “finest water,” tales of diamonds from Golconda, rubies from Ava, and encounters with the legendary British East India Company. Tavernier’s clever haggling will draw smiles from experienced gem traders: Bargaining with the poorest miners or striking deals with the King of France, the rhythm of the trade employs a familiar parry and thrust which echoes down through the ages.
John Pollard, Pricescope.com
Amazon 5 star Reviewer
Richard Wise combines his extensive knowledge of gemology, the gem trade, and history, and weaves them into a gripping tale worthy of the most discerning library. The reader is taken on a vivid journey to exotic locales, with realistic characters, who bring the adventure to life. From Paris to the Far East, we travel alongside the hero, Tavernier, as he makes his mark in the gem trade. I imagine there were not many men who embodied Tavernier's combination of ethics, focus of purpose, bravery and stomach for adventure. This story was meant to be told by someone like Mr. Wise, as his knowledge of gem craft brings an exceptional added dimension to the tale.
The French Blue was lavishly researched and wonderfully presented. I am richer for having read it, and recommend it heartily.
C. Monte, Amazon 5 star Reviewer
Benjamin Zucker, author of Blue
Amazon 5 star Reviewer
“So I bought the book The French Blue downloaded it to my IPhone. I was up until 2am. Great story you took me across Europe the Middle East. I found myself googling people and places. And I have not begun the second journey.. Bravo, everyone should buy this book. Thank You Richard!”
“The fascinating back story of the Hope Diamond. It is both a delightful read and a treasure trove of insights into the world of the 17th Century gem trade.”
John S. White, Former Curator, National Gem Collection,
Amazon 5 star Reviewer
A Rich Tale of Adventure to Exotic places in the Search for Gorgeous Gems!
“This book is so much more than just a tale of the magnificent Hope Diamond. It is a rich and colorful story that takes the reader on a thirty-eight year journey with Jean Baptiste Tavernier, Gem Trader as he gains experiences and knowledge that lead him to acquire the brilliant blue diamond. Richard Wise writes in a style that makes it easy to lose yourself and together, with Jean Baptiste, travel the Eastern Hemisphere on high seas trips to find gems fit for Kings, Sheiks, Cardinals and a woman he loves…”
I was first introduced to Richard W. Wise when I picked up his book Secrets of the Gem Trade The Connoisseur's Guide to Precious Gemstones.
As a Gemology student I was looking for information, specifics that would make me a smarter purchaser and aid me in my studies. What I found was a book of intriguing stories of gem trading, miners, and exotic locales. The art of the story teller is legend and doesn't come easily. Wise has taken his success with Secrets of the Gem Trade one step further and in this adventure story his imagination was released to travel the road and sail the seas with Jean Baptiste Tavernier. Well done!
I picked up the book at midday yesterday and once started I kept reading. I found myself waking up on my lounge this morning with the book on my chest. It is a very enjoyable read and, for those that didn't know him yet, a great way of getting to know J.B. Tavernier. Your novel falls in the category of books that I regret finishing, I could have handled an extended version or maybe even a trilogy quite easily!
Tim Spauwen, FGA. Antique Jewelry University