La Grande Therese

This is a radio dramatization of the novel, La Grande Therese : The Greatest Swindle of the Century, written by Hilary Spurling. This description of the book is taken from Amazon UK :

A hundred years ago the fabulously wealthy Therese Humbert and her husband lived like royalty on a fashionable street in Paris where they were waited on by Matisse’s parents-in-law. Therese let it be known that she had had an even wealthier American lover and paid for everything by borrowing money on the expectation that she would receive a legacy from his will. Annoyingly, his children kept disputing the will and the case dragged on for years. But the Humberts kept on living it up, socialising with the great and the good and running up debts all the while. In this wittily piquant morality tale Spurling describes the spectacular rise and fall of a cunning French peasant girl with a wicked imagination and irresistible powers of persuasion who worked up a hoax that fooled an entire society. Therese sadly died in disgrace and without a penny, but her story is as rich and entertaining as anything by Dickens or Zola.

The book itself is quite slim, all of 144 pages. The radio version went out in 10 segments over 10 consecutive dates, starting from 9 October 2000 as part of BBC Radio 4’s Woman’s Hour Drama.

Episode guide :

01 – What A Girl
Catherine and Therese are childhood friends from the same village in south-west FRANCE. Their friendship lasts for most of their lives as they support each other throughout one of the most amazing financial swindles of the 19th century.

02 – The Wedding Of The Year
Catherine and Therese both plan to marry, and Therese learns how to weave the fantasies in which she herself believes.

03 – She Lied As A Bird Sings
Catherine and Armand move to PARIS to work for Papa Humbert, while the pregnant Therese and Frederic have to make do with an attic.

04 – Robert Henry Crawford’s Heir
A mysterious chest of documents belonging to Therese’s family is assumed to hold evidence of her inheritance.

05 – What I Want I Will Have
The d’Aurignac family go from strength to strength in PARIS – with money borrowed from gullible creditors.

06 – A Little Kingdom
The Humbert family moves again – to a vast gothic PARIS house – and events begin to gather pace in Therese’s little kingdom.

07 – Romain And The Strongbox
After Therese’s father dies, anxiety begins to be expressed over the contents of the d’Aurignac strongbox.

08 – The False Suitors
The numerous creditors of the d’Aurignac dynasty begin to turn nasty. Suicide and guns become commonplace as the deceptions of the past are laid bare.

09 – Called To Account
Romain takes the d’Aurignac financial affairs into his own hands after Humbert’s death, but their creditors become more demanding.

10 – Fairy Gold
The d’Aurignac family and their supporters are summoned to court and finally called to account.

It is unclear from available resources which part was played by Nicola though she was one of the two main lead female protagonists, the other one being played by Helen Schlesinger.

Six degrees

Robert Glenister makes an appearance in episode 7. Robert has also appeared in Series 5, 6, 7, 8 and 9 of Spooks and had a number of scenes with Nicola.

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Availability on Audible

The show is not currently available to buy from either Audible US or Audible UK.

Availability as a book

If you wish to read the book, it is available as

a paperback from Amazon US

a paperback from Amazon UK

a Kindle book from Amazon UK.

Please note that Amazon UK Kindle books are only available for purchase by UK residents.

If you live outside the US or the UK and wish to read the book, the best option would be to buy from

the Bookdepository

They ship to over 70 destinations worldwide free of charge. Their prices may be slightly higher than those from Amazon but with Amazon orders, there will be shipping charges and these may sometimes offset any perceived discounts given by Amazon.