La Grande Thérèse is the true story of a scandal that nearly destroyed the French Third Republic.A hundred years ago Thérèse Humbert was one of the most powerful women in France; her salon was the center of Parisian life, and her wealth--as the assumed illegitimate daughter of an American billionaire--was fabled. She lived life on a grand scale and was the toast of Paris. But Thérèse was not who she claimed to be. Her lifestyle, her history, and, most important, her fortune--all were an elaborate hoax. When her con was finally exposed, thousands of small investors and creditors, including the in-laws of the artist Henri Matisse, were completely ruined. Thérèse was tried and sentenced to five years' hard labor. When she was released from prison, she vanished, and the fantastic story of her life was mostly hushed up, because it has disgraced so many wealthy and important people.Hilary Spurling has done meticulous research into the life of Thérèse Humbert. La Grand Thérèse is the remarkable story of the spectacular rise and fall of a French peasant girl with an extraordinary imagination and irresistible powers of persuasion.