La Grande Therese : The Greatest Scandal of the Century

Hilary Spurling discovered Therese Humbert while researching her Matisse biography (he married the daughter of Therese’s housekeeper) and decided such a jaw-dropping story deserved a book of its own. Therese was a poor peasant girl from the southern countryside of France who dreamed up imaginary riches and somehow conned Paris into believing her (thus fronting her millions of francs). She infiltrated the highest levels of Parisian official society, pals with the head of police, various presidents and other officials. Eventually the scheme came crashing down and she and her family disappeared from history.