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Finding Emilie

Finding Emilie

  • reading group guide
Woman is born free, and everywhere she is in corsets. . . .

Lili du Châtelet yearns to know more about her mother, the brilliant French mathematician Emilie. But the shrouded details of Emilie’s unconventional life—and her sudden death—are elusive. Caught between the confines of a convent upbringing and the intrigues of the Versailles court, Lili blossoms under the care of a Parisian salonnière as she absorbs the excitement of the Enlightenment, even as the scandalous shadow of her mother’s past haunts her and puts her on her own path of self-discovery.

Laurel Corona’s breathtaking new novel, set on the eve of the French Revolution, vividly illuminates the tensions of the times, and the dangerous dance between the need to conform and the desire to chart one’s own destiny and journey of the heart.
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  • Gallery Books | 
  • 448 pages | 
  • ISBN 9781439197660 | 
  • April 2011
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Read an Excerpt

Reading Group Guide

This reading group guide for Finding Emilie includes an introduction, discussion questions, ideas for enhancing your book club, and a Q&A with authorLaurel Corona. The suggested questions are intended to help your reading group find new and interesting angles and topics for your discussion. We hope that these ideas will enrich your conversation and increase your enjoyment of the book.

TOPICS & QUESTIONS FOR DISCUSSION

1. What does the reader learn about the two great influences on Lili’s life, Baronne Lomont and Julie de Bercy, from the letters in the prologue? About the Marquis du Châtelet and his relationship with Emilie?

2. Early in the book, Delphine is victimized by her social environment, but also masterful at triumphing over it. What in her personality and behavior accounts for this? How does Lili’s temperament make her also a victim and victor?

3. Why is the Jardin de Roi so important to Lili? Have you ever had a place of refuge? What effect did it have on your life?

4. Do the political and scientific views discussed in Julie’s salon and elsewhere in the novel resonate in our world today?

5. “The truth is all that matters, all that is really permanent.” Do you agree? Did Emilie apply her philosophy well in real life? Can anyone?

6. What do you think of Rousseau’s idea that our upbringing is deliberately intended to deform us to fit the society see more

About the Author

Laurel Corona
Photograph by Olga Gunn, Olga Gunn Studios

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