In the middle of a busy weekend of concerts, I made a fleeting visit to my local independent bookseller and relieved her of Voltaire Almighty: A life in pursuit of freedom by Roger Pearson.
Pearson writes with the irresistible combination of liveliness and authority that goes under the banner of classic style. (And which also happens to be the hallmark of the 17th-century French masters.*) I'm only a short way in, but have already found delight in his descriptions of Parisian public order (not guaranteed): …for gentlemen a pistol or sword were pertinent accessories, while for ladies the most valuable accessory was a gentleman; and the city's "pestilential fug": …churches with their rotting dead and hospitals with their purulent quick….* I don't read French, but am taking the good authority of Francis-Noël Thomas and Mark Turner in their study of classic prose, Clear and Simple as the Truth.