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The Philosopher's Kiss

The Philosopher's Kiss

A Novel

  • reading group guide
Internationally bestselling author Peter Prange makes his US debut with a luminous historical novel.

Truth. Betrayal. Revolution. Love. ENLIGHTENMENT.

PARIS, 1747. Betrayed by God and humanity, eighteen-year-old Sophie moves to the seething French capital and finds work as a serving girl at Café Procope. Here, against her will, she falls deeply in love with Denis Diderot, the famed philosopher and a married man. He and his colleagues are planning the most dangerous book in the world since the Bible: an encyclopedia. Even more scandalous are references concealed within that threaten to undermine both the monarchy and the church. But Sophie soon realizes that even her own rights to freedom, love, and happiness are at risk. Prange powerfully recreates a fascinating era in this spirited story of passion, censorship, self-expression, and rebellion.
Choose a format:
  • Atria Books | 
  • 432 pages | 
  • ISBN 9781451617887 | 
  • April 2012
List Price $25.99
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Read an Excerpt


“Credo in unum Deum. Patrem omnipotentem, factorem coeli et terrae . . .”

Sophie closed her eyes as she knelt barefoot on the tamped clay floor of her bedroom to pray with all the fervor of her eleven-year-old heart. And this heart of hers was giving her no rest—it was pounding so fiercely, as if it wanted to jump out of her chest. The Apostles’ Creed in Latin was one of the tests that the priest was going to require today of the village children studying for Communion, before they were allowed to approach the Altar of the Lord for the first time in their lives. Although... see more

Reading Group Guide

This reading group guide for The Philosopher's Kiss includes an introduction, discussion questions, ideas for enhancing your book club, and a Q&A with author Peter Prange. 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.


In eighteenth-century Paris, Sophie Volland begins a passionate affair with the famed philosopher Denis Diderot as he and his colleagues embark on an ambitious and dangerous undertaking: the creation of an encyclopedia containing all of human knowledge. This revolutionary work threatens to undermine both the monarchy and the church, placing its authors at risk during the tumultuous years of the Enlightenment. As Sophie’s fate becomes entwined with that of the Encyclopedia, she must ultimately make a decision that jeopardizes her happiness, her future, and her love for Diderot.


  1. What are Diderot’s motivations for wanting to produce the Encyclopedia? Why does he advocate for multiple contributors rather than a single author? Why does Diderot believe the work will essentially change the course of humanity?
  2. What is your opinion of Diderot from a professional standpoint? Is his willingness to take risks to complete
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About the Author



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