Read A Visit from Voltaire by Dinah Lee Küng Online


You can't keep a good man down . . . even when he's dead!Nominated for the Orange Prize for Fiction, this is a light-hearted story of friendship defying the barrier of time to share life's upheavals great and small.When an American mother and ex-journalist is overwhelmed by her new Swiss home, a visitor pops out of nowhere offering to relieve her son's asthma, her husband'You can't keep a good man down . . . even when he's dead!Nominated for the Orange Prize for Fiction, this is a light-hearted story of friendship defying the barrier of time to share life's upheavals great and small.When an American mother and ex-journalist is overwhelmed by her new Swiss home, a visitor pops out of nowhere offering to relieve her son's asthma, her husband's distracted absence and her problems grappling with village life. Is he the village crackpot or - as he claims - the Greatest Mind of the Eighteenth Century? This talkative intruder, a skinny egotist in kneebreeches and a powdered wig, is the last straw. Though she begs him to disappear, he unpacks his moldy trunk and a lifetime of stories instead. Slowly "V." becomes her stalwart best friend as they laugh, bicker and he teaches her the best lesson of all: how to live life to its fullest."In the tradition of the best self-help novels, Voltaire teaches her how to live a happy and full life," writes Nicholas Cronk in "The Cambridge Guide to Voltaire."...

Title : A Visit from Voltaire
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 12431807
Format Type : Kindle Edition
Number of Pages : 389 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

A Visit from Voltaire Reviews

  • Jennifer
    2018-10-20 10:03

    Dinah Lee Küng brings Voltaire to life in her uproariously delightful novel, A Visit From Voltaire. It should not go without saying; this novel was long listed for the Orange Prize in Fiction in 2004, a nomination well deserved. The tale begins with an exhausted mother, truly is there another kind, yet in all seriousness she, her Swiss husband Peter and their three children have relocated from Manhattan to the small Swiss town of St-Cergue where absolutely nothing has gone as planned. The contractors are over-budget, the narrator's husband Peter tends toward laissez faire attitude toward life, the children are ill and there is the schooling to think of, to top all of that off many of the belongings that were supposed to have arrived did not. What does appear one evening is a dapper man dressed in 18th century attire, a M. François Marie Arouet, Seigneur de Tournay et Ferney also known as V. The stressed out narrator has concluded she has lost her mind and is not all so certain it is a bad thing to have happened. V makes a most formidable friend to this outsider who misses her country, all that is familiar and who desperately needs to learn French, or at least have a translator. The characters are extremely likeable, the novel is brilliantly detailed and one cannot help but become engrossed in A Visit From Voltaire. V, along with our narrator, helps bring to light serious social injustices as well as the more mundane, yet equally important issues of parenting and family life. Dinah Lee Küng's novel makes for a delightful, witty and enlightening read.

  • Tracy
    2018-10-20 07:39

    I finished it because I kept waiting for it to make sense. Why did the ghost of Voltaire suddenly appear to this modern woman? Was there a purpose? When would the big reveal come? Well, I never did quite understand. I also couldn't understand how he materialized with his full wardrobe and all of his material possessions. Or how did he travel with his modern friend on a modern airplane from Switzerland to London? And how exactly did his ghostly valise go right along with her checked baggage on the plane? I know it's fiction, and I know I had to give up some claim to realism in order to accept that there's a ghost being seen by and conversing with this woman, but I still need some of it to make some kind of sense. And I really need to know why he's there in the first place ???

  • Alex Brett
    2018-09-19 10:41

    Delightful. A true tribute to joie de vivre, and will please any cosmopolitan soul trying to find solace from the boredom of provincial life. The figure of Voltaire is presented not as a dry text-book figure but is resurrected as the witty and unstoppable man he should be remembered as. As the narrator sifts through her own experiences, ranging from the intriguing to the alarmingly incongruous, Voltaire offers the best advice one can have ultimately: to hack and slash away at the pomposity of institutions and at our own self-importance in order to appreciate the comedic value of life and as a result to focus on those few things which give meaning to it.

  • Liz Mutkins
    2018-09-23 09:48

    A really enjoyable book with the quirky ghost of Voltaire providing much needed company for an American journalist ill at ease in her new home in rural Switzerland. Funny and touching, also a great way to learn a lot about a wonderful figure from history.

  • Cassandra
    2018-09-23 11:05

    Von New York in ein kleines Schweizer Dörfchen zu ziehen, ist auch für Dinah ein riesiger Schritt. Sie, die zwanzig Jahre in Hongkong als Journalistin gelebt hat, Skandale aufdeckte und sich für die Menschenrechte eingesetzt hat, ist jetzt auch noch vom Großstadtleben mit all ihren Bekannten abgeschnitten. Die Umbauten des Hauses verschlingen das ganze Geld, die Handwerker machen was sie wollen und als zwei ihrer Kinder erkranken, ist sie eigentlich vom Landleben kuriert. Da erscheint am Bett ihres Sohnes Theo ein sonderbarer junger Arzt, der als Heilmittel gegen Asthma Limonade empfiehlt. Empört stellt sie schnell fest, dass nur sie in der Lage ist, ihn zu sehen und zu hören. Der Geist stellt sich als Voltaire heraus, der es sich schnell bei ihr gemütlich macht und ab da steigt der Kaffeekonsum gewaltig.Dieses Buch wird noch eine Zeitlang bei mir nachwirken, denn nach Beendigung der Lektüre, ist es ein wenig so, als wäre Monsieur Voltaire auch bei mir zu Gast gewesen. Dieses Buch bzw. Voltaire, hat mir einige Gedankenanstöße gegeben und brachte mich an manchen Stellen zum Schmunzeln. Ich mochte besonders die Stelle, an denen Voltaire anhand von Heidi, E.T und Star Wars, Dinah erklärt, dass Hollywood gerne biblischen Geschichten adaptiert. Das Buch ist keineswegs trocken, vermittelt aber trotzdem sehr viel Wissen über das Leben von Voltaire. Ich muss gestehen, bis zum Lesens dieses Romans, war mir Voltaire eher ein vager Begriff – Das wird sich jetzt ändern, denn Dinah Lee King hat es geschafft mich neugierig auf diesen faszinierenden Mann zu machen. Da dieses Buch wie eine Autobiographie der Autorin wirkt, sind die Charaktere glaubhaft und sehr bildlich dargestellt. Wer dieses Buch lesen möchte, muss sich auf einige Rückblenden aus ihrer Zeit als Korrespondentin in China gefasst machen, was ich persönlich als sehr schade empfinde, da es mich mehr interessiert hätte, wie sie sich letztlich in der Dorfidylle einlebt. Voltaire gab ihr genügend Gedankenanstöße ihre innere Pompadour wieder zu erwecken und einzusehen, dass man auch von ihrem Standort durchaus noch etwas bewegen kann. Anstatt nach Vorne zu sehen oder in der Gegenwart zu leben, trauert die Autorin mir viel zu sehr ihrem alten, aufregendem Leben nach und schafft es nicht dieses loszulassen. Es war aber nicht nur die Beziehung von Dinah und Voltaire, die mir gefiel sondern auch die Nebenhandlungen, wie z.B. die ihrer Freundin aus Afrika, die nach einem Schicksalsschlag neuen Lebensmut finden muss. Dieses Buch ist sicherlich kein Pageturner. Wer Action und einen wirklichen Spannungsbogen erwartet, wird sicherlich enttäuscht. Hier geht es um das Innenleben der Personen, welches in Dialogen und Anekdoten aus dem Leben der Protagonisten dargestellt wird.Positiv- Ein Buch das nachwirkt- Manche Passagen sind sehr amüsant- Es regt zum Nachdenken an- Charaktere sehr bildhaft und glaubhaft- Man erfährt viel über Voltaire und benötigt nicht unbedingt Vorkenntnisse- Ich habe Lust bekommen mich mit Voltaire zu beschäftigenAuch die Nebenhandlungen gefielen mirNeutral- Die Autorin hat viel von ihrem eigenen Leben einfließen lassen- Das Buch beinhaltet sehr viele Dialoge- Es ist kein aufregendes Buch mit großem SpannungsbogenNegativ- Es waren mir zu viele Rückblicke auf ihr Leben in ChinaFazit: Es ist kein aufregendes Buch, aber mit Sicherheit gehört es zu denen, die noch eine Weile nachklingen.

  • Joanna
    2018-10-16 09:05

    Here's a thoughtful review from book blogger Tariq Kataria. He sums up this book very well:"A most admirable way of introducing historical characters to todays reader in an educational , entertaining , easily accessible is in the form an anecdotal quasi-fictional narrative. It has been done to great effect in theatre plays like Alan Bennetts "The Habit of Art" and Novels from Tolstoy to Solzhenitsyn to Kundera which explore meetings of real life characters who could have met , or if they did meet we do not know what was said.Any work of this nature has to be done with a surprising amount of responsibility , delicacy, integral dexterity and true to the nature of the subjects long term vision.To her great credit Dinah Lee Kung passes all these vital and necessary benchmarks.Capturing the humour of everyday humdrum slapstick , and also imparting some truths about Voltaire a casual reader would be all the better to know.The response of the readers in this non-academic readers forum gives a touching overview of how successful the author is in making Voltaire come to life in a three dimensional easy to approach manner.For example we are made aware on page 94 Voltaire was a munitions dealer - " war profiteer" which is not known to the general reader , though should be known if they are to evaluate the Man who is synonymous with the chimes of Enlightenment.To his credit on page 344 he has this sage universal advice for Mankind internal and external .."If a man has tyrants , he must dethrone them."Another issue to know about Voltaire is a charge of Anti-Semitism , alas not an unusual charge with the great and good of European Enlightment Philosophy.Again , to his credit , he has this quote attributed to him from a 1763 essay."It does not require great art, or magnificently trained eloquence, to prove that Christians should tolerate each other. I, however, am going further: I say that we should regard all men as our brothers. What? The Turk my brother? The Chinaman my brother? The Jew? The Siam? Yes, without doubt; are we not all children of the same father and creatures of the same God?"

  • Herbabbado
    2018-10-09 09:59

    Wonderful, but a book that's hard to categorize, as it's part memoir in the voice of the great Voltaire himself, and part memoir by the narrator who has to put up with his ghost, part fiction and part rigorous historical research. It all makes for an original and suprisingly comical two-hander set against the landscape of a small Swiss village.I can understand why the Orange Prize for Fiction committee singled it out, and why its readership grows with time. Although the author is American, she’s best known in England and Switzerland and that’s where I learned about this book. The story could be read as a light family sit-com romp, or a clash between two centuries, or just two stubborn personalities—one a real diva star of the eighteenth century salon set and the other a struggling journalist settling her young family into a foreign home.But underneath all the comedy, (and the Christmas/New Year's Eve Party is a real set piece,) there lies a tenderness and a humanity that leaves you with a glow. Maybe Voltaire travelled forward in time because he couldn't stand the boredom of eternity compared to his celebrity times, or he travelled to her home to help her through a difficult winter. Either way, after spending time with him as he copes with the modern world (rather well, actually, thanks to her coffee machine!) and she learns to let go of her past, you feel cheered yourself. Certain things don't change for any of us, money problems, love disappointments, home disruptions—but friendship and kindness endure.Slow in the middle, so I took off one star, but worth sticking with.btw, Here’s a feature about the author from the English-language Swiss News that was done some years ago:

  • Kristen
    2018-10-09 10:46

    A delightful romp of a book, and easily the most superbly written (and readable!) historical figure I've seen in a long time. Kung's Voltaire brims with the charm, intellect, and vivacity that makes him such a joy to get to know in history. The narrative was unpredictable, the thoughts were fresh and fascinating, and the anecdotes were intriguing. As someone very familiar with the era, it was clear that Kung did her homework. I'd gladly recommend this to anyone who loves history, and even those who don't! In this novel, Kung encompasses perfectly the living aspect of the past that causes so many to fall in love with it.

  • Mary
    2018-10-20 11:51

    I picked this up in the library and found it very entertaining. Living as an American expat in England I could relate to many of her situations in the book (which I'm sure are based on many of her actual experiences) and found myself wishing for my own intellectual ghost to keep me company and give such guidance! The only criticism really is that I did find it a bit slow in the middle which I have also read in a previous review, but it is a light read overall, and that did not hinder my enjoyment of the book.

  • Jane Seaford
    2018-10-09 08:06

    I took this book from the library as I once lived in Ferney-Voltaire (where Voltaire once lived) and also knew the area where it was set. And because it was long listed for the Orange prize. It started well... but I was soon bored. And wondered what the point of most of it was. The author can write. But that's the only positive thing I can say about it. It's as if she'd had the idea and then had to do a lot of padding in order to tell a story around it. Such a disapointment.

  • Kathrine
    2018-10-17 12:00

    I really enjoyed reading this, I thought Voltaire was excellently portrayed and it was very funny.

  • Joan
    2018-09-29 10:47

    love it

  • Francescajemm
    2018-10-07 10:51

    Blah. Didn't engage me. Read like a combo of a rambling memoir and a research paper on Voltaire. Wasn't seamless at all.

  • Jessica
    2018-10-02 13:53

    Couldn't get into it. Don't know enough about Voltaire...

  • Carmen
    2018-10-13 09:05

    We read this for a book club I am in as it was written by an expat living in Switzerland...

  • Roberta
    2018-10-02 10:49

    I got half-way in this novel and just ran out of steam. I was bored with the family and not learning anything about Voltaire or France. For me, the narrator was just too whiny.

  • Sara
    2018-10-01 14:51

    04 long list-orange prize