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A Visit from Voltaire Paperback – 18 Mar 2004

4.6 out of 5 stars 11 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 360 pages
  • Publisher: Halban Publishers; New edition edition (18 Mar. 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1870015843
  • ISBN-13: 978-1870015844
  • Product Dimensions: 14 x 3 x 21.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,290,311 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product description

Book Description

A witty tale about the unlikeliest of friends.

From the Publisher

'A Visit From Voltaire' has been longlisted for the Orange Prize for Fiction 2004.

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Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
I really, really loved this book. Voltaire comes back to life, not as a spook, but more an affectionate, avuncular nag in wig askew and ink-stained britches. Visible only to the author, his indomitable ego fills the pages with witticisms, verbal sparring and massive intellect. We learn about his life and times - but Kung has given him an entirely consistent, and insatiable appetite to continue his work after his death. With her help, he taps into the internet to lobby for human rights - and despite her efforts to curb his use of her credit card, he dabbles once again in the financial markets. The story is rich in character, dialogue and insight, fleshed out with her own confiding in the ghost about experiences she can't quite leave behind. He ages from a talented but self-centred salon lounge lizard to a frail humanitarian who has seen it all. He drinks gallons of coffee, takes snuff and wears fresh, clean clothes every day. She finds a way to make the best use of her new life in Switzerland and outgrow the vanities of her life before arriving in a small Swiss village.

This is a stimulating novel, rich and uncynical.
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Format: Hardcover
In a world where most authors, other than the avowedly academic, appear to strive to fall within the neat categories of marketing departments, how refreshing it is to come across a book which resolutely, though unconsciously, defies such pidgeonholing.
Informed throughout by a wonderful sense of humour, "A Visit From Voltaire" is by turns a description, both serious and hilarious, of family life in a new and unfamiliar environment; an introduction to 18th Century cultural life; and, via a series of vignettes linking similar events in different times (the Author's and Voltaire's), a comment on political and religious corruption and intolerance.
Above all though, "A Visit From Voltaire" has, at its heart, the development from rocky beginnings of a wonderful friendship between the Author and Voltaire - Voltaire emerges not only as the champion of justice and tolerance that we are all aware of, but as a delightfully idiosyncratic and human character, fully capable of moving between his era and ours, where he finds his ideals still under attack and where his unflagging energy and honesty are still as necessary as ever. Whether adapting to the internet or revisiting old haunts in London, his zest for life is contagious. The development of the friendship between the Author and Voltaire is beautifully handled and I was as sad as the Author when they finally parted. How I wish he had stayed. I had so much I wanted to ask him.
As with all good books, I was inspired to do a number of things - learn more about the man and his century (a very helpful bibliography is provided); renew my contact with Amnesty International; Revisit Bernstein and take a look at my wardrobe.
All this in addition to a wonderful read. How could you resist?
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Format: Hardcover
I thought this was just about the most entertaining book I have read during the last year. Voltaire is a hilarious visitor - who annoys and entertains the author constantly during her battles to become adjusted to a totally different way of life with her family in a new country. It is completely orginal in its concept, funny, honest, soul searching and vivid - and erudite in a totally readable way. It's a book I am recommending to all my friends and anyone else who will listen!
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Format: Hardcover
Author Dinah Lee Kung pulls off in this book a superb feat of imaginative writing. A transplanted New Yorker trying to settle down in a Swiss village with her husband and three children, the narrator discovers an unexpected visitor in her chalet: Voltaire. As she deals with violin lessons, ski trips, broken legs, and dinner parties, she brings Voltaire to life in her 21st century imagination, his moods and poutiness as well as his brilliance and wit. The parallels are uncanny, unexpected, always insightful.
Each time I put this book down, a line or two would keep popping into my head and making me smile or laugh. By the time you finish reading this entertaining book, you will have fallen in love not only with Voltaire but with Dinah Lee Kung.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Having lived in the Canton de Vaud for 20 years, driven up the road to St. Cergue at least 100 times (birthday parties, kiddie skiing and the Clinique Genolier), I loved this book and wish I had had the idea to write it myself. It helps if you "know the neighborhood," however. Otherwise, the nuances of trying to live in Switzerland with Voltaire might be missed. Very well observed -- and tactful -- view of the Swiss in Vaud. But, sometimes conversations with Voltaire are too discursive to hold this reader's attention; would have been more effective if they had been somewhat distilled.
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By Jude Faulkner TOP 1000 REVIEWER on 20 Jun. 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I loved the other book I have read by Dinah, Love and the Art of War and thought it was clever. This book, although a comnpletely different subject, stands out as being just as good. Excellent and the research which has gone into writing these books is second to none. Told me a lot about Voltaire I didn't know in a funny, friendly way. Dinah's books also make me feel less of an idiot, knowing others walk around wondering if they are the only ones feeling like a 'kutz'.
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