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The Philosopher's Kiss: A Novel Hardcover – April 5, 2011

4.8 out of 5 stars 8 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

When her mother is burned alive for "practicing the black arts," the beautiful young Sophie Volland is racked with fear and uncertainty. She finds work in Paris's Cafe Procope, known as a meeting place for dangerous freethinkers, and meets outspoken philosopher Denis Diderot. The two are instantly taken with each other, but Diderot is married and Sophie wants security more than anything else. Diderot has taken up the monumental task of editing a Bible-like encyclopedia "containing all human knowledge," a book which, as this is the mid-18th century, is a direct threat to the monarchy and the church. Diderot is quickly persecuted, placing the lives of all around him—Sophie included—at risk. Care for him though she may, the likelihood of Sophie or any other freethinker saving Diderot grows dim. This historic tale is compelling and well written, and Prange particularly brings Paris to vivid life. Unfortunately Sophie, his heroine, is less interesting than the supporting characters, particularly the king's mistress, Madame de Pompadour. Still, fans of historical fiction will find plenty to like. (Apr.)
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Review

"Prange's "The Philosopher's Kiss," set in eighteenth-century France, is a careful study of the origins of the Encyclopedia and the life and love of one of its creators, Diderot. Here is historical fiction at its finest--meticulously researched with superbly drawn characters, edifying and entertaining. " --Indu Sundaresan, author of "The Twentieth Wife" and "Shadow Princess"
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 432 pages
  • Publisher: Atria Books; First Edition edition (April 5, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1439167486
  • ISBN-13: 978-1439167489
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.4 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #4,270,011 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Format: Hardcover
The story takes place in the mid-18th century. When Sophie is a young girl, she is forced to witness her mother's burning at the stake for sorcery. Years later, as a young women, Sophie, leaves her small village for Paris. There she eventually meets Denis Diderot, a philosopher who will begin work on an Encyclopedia, containing all human knowledge." This monumental work will, of course, cause a direct threat to the monarchy and the church.
Meanwhile, Sophie and Denis have an instant connection, but happiness seems to elude them at many points in their life.
Mixed in with all of that, is Sophie's jealous husband, who becomes quite powerful within the police ranks. He will stop at nothing to halt production of Denis's work.
At times, the story is not light reading, but it was always compelling. I was instantly transported back to Paris in the 1700s. Their were lots of different characters, including King Louis' mistress who also played a role during the writing of the encyclopedia. At times, I wish the author made Sophie a bit more interesting. But the historical drama which was loosely based on real events was a real delight to read!
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Format: Hardcover
From my books review blog, [...]:

>Set in pre-victorian Europe, a young woman, Sophie Volland, witnesses her mother's execution as a child, over accusations of witchcraft, love and betrayal. As an adult, she marries for a better station in life but a loveless marriage and falls in love with one of the most dangerous men of the day: the philosopher and writer Diderot! Enter the court of King Louis the XVI, his mistress Madame de Pompadour and the various court members.

Peter Prange weaves a fantastic tale of intrigue, mystery with facts from history. Never before has history been so interesting! The characters in "The Philosopher's Kiss" are well-developed due in part to being actual living people so long ago. Sure, he takes literary license with the people, places, events and has much conjecture, but the style and information cannot be denied.

Most anyone can identify with the love between Volland and Diderot. A miscommunication, a slight that hurts, all of us can feel the pain and pang of guilt. I would recommend everyone who loves a good court intrigue story, as well as misguided love, to read this novel.
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Format: Hardcover
As I read the previous reviews, I decided not to explain what the book was all about. That was already done. Living in the age of information, all we have to do is google the word and the loads of information is set forth before our eyes..but does anyone know what was the price of information centuries ago? In times when a simple explanation of how nature worked could be considered blasphemy and one would be at the scaffold for talking about it..Diderot was a man who devoted his life into enlightment and spread the knowledge of everything that was known to humans..in a book called Encyclopedia. How easy for us to take it for granted now that we have free Wikipedia..T

From the first paragraph I read, I couldn't put the book down. The story is so well written that I admire the imagination of the author..I, unlike the previous reviewers, am not very good with words. So I will say this to whomever is reading this...I love historical novels and this book has been so special for me that each day, I made time to lay down on my couch, turned off the TV, made a cup of tea with milk and indulged in reading. It has been a delight to read this book. I took me back in time,so vivid in descriptions that it made me feel as if I was living in 18th Century..I recommend this book to everyone...
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Format: Paperback
I adore this novel. The descriptions create a three-dimensional sensory experience. As someone who believes they lived another life in18th century Paris, this book held an extra layer of meaning for me. Prange is a master wordsmith. So glad to finally own a copy, so the library one gets a break from me!
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