The Philosopher's Kiss

A Novel

The Philosopher's Kiss

Now in paperback, The Philosopher’s Kiss tells the passionate love story between Sophie, a girl from the French countryside, and Denis Diderot, the famed philosopher behind the creation of the first encyclopedia.

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.
  • Atria Books | 
  • 432 pages | 
  • ISBN 9781451617887 | 
  • April 2012
List Price $25.99
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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 comp
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