A CRIME OF PASSION by Stanley Loomis


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Here, by the author of Dubarry and Paris in the Terror, is a vivid reconstruction of a world-famous tragedy, the savage murder of Fanny Sebastiani, Duchesse de Prastin, by her husband, the 5th Duc, in Paris in 1847. Rachel Field's novel, All This and Heaven Too, is based on the crime; in this book the historian-author, working from ""the litter of the murder"" (documents, letters, bloodstained garments, weapons) held until 1947 in the National Archives in Paris, presents a factual account of a blazing scandal that helped topple the monarchy of Louis-Philippe. Tears flood a tale as fascinating as any whodunit, dark hints of strange vices swirl around it, unanswered questions add to its mystery. Hatred motivated the crime: the jealous hatred of Fanny for the governess, Henriette Deluzy, to whom the Due had forced her to surrender entire control of her children; the cold hatred of the Due for his wife, once beautiful, now ugly and hysterical from bearing nine children in fifteen years. When Fanny in the summer of 1847 abruptly threatened divorce, naming the governess as the Duc's mistress (a fact never proved), her husband prepared to kill her. On the night of Aug. 18 he murdered her with insane brutality; a few days later, faced with arrest, he killed himself. Mile. Deluzy, arrested as an accessory to the crime but never tried, came to America, married a minister, Henry Field, extolled to Americans the virtues of French family life, and died in the odor of prosperous sanctity in 1875. ""She was,"" comments the author, ""a remarkable woman,"" as she is here.

Pub Date: May 16th, 1967
Publisher: Lippincott