1776: Benjamin Franklin sails to Paris, carrying a copy of the Declaration of Independence, freshly signed. His charge: gain the support of France for the unfolding American Revolution. Yet Paris is a city of distractions. Ben’s lover, Marianne Davies, will soon arrive, and he yearns to rekindle his affair with the beautiful musician.
Dr. Franz Mesmer has plans for Marianne too. He has taken Parisian nobility by storm with his discovery of magnétisme animale, a mysterious force claimed to heal the sick. Marianne’s ability to channel Mesmer’s phenomena is key to his success.
A skeptical King Louis XVI appoints Ben to head a commission investigating the astonishing magnétisme animale. By nature, Ben requires proof. Can he scientifically prove that it does not exist? Mesmer will stop at nothing to protect his profitable claim.
The Wisdom of The Flock explores the conflict between science and mysticism in a time rife with revolution, love, spies, and passion.
I do not recall having read a book about either Benjamin Franklin or Franz Mesmer before, and I am not all that sure that there are many, if any, fictional books about them. So I was really excited when I was given the chance to read this book.
Set in a turbulent time of change in American history, an elderly Benjamin travels to France to try and gain their support in the upcoming revolution against the British. But France, for a man like Benjamin, is like a playground of all his favourite toys—there is a distraction around every corner! And there is nothing as distracting as Doctor Franz Mesmer and his use of magnétisme animale to heal people. With a thirst for scientific knowledge, Benjamin is both curious and suspicious of the doctor, as Mesmer consistently refuses to reveal his secrets to the public.
This novel is fascinating, as it involves many scientists, who are more than happy to discuss and debate different findings. I greatly enjoyed finding out about different things, such as the attempts to harness electricity from an eel! I certainly came away from this book knowing things that I did not know before. This book was both informative and enjoyable to read, and brought to life people and an era that I had not previously had the pleasure to read about. I thoroughly enjoyed this novel and it is certainly one I will read again.
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Steve Gnatz is a writer, physician, bicyclist, photographer, traveler, and aspiring ukulele player. The son of a history professor and a nurse, it seems that both medicine and history are in his blood. Writing historical fiction came naturally. An undergraduate degree in biology was complemented by a minor in classics. After completing medical school, he embarked on an academic medical career specializing in Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation. There was little time for writing during those years, other than research papers and a technical primer on electromyography. Now retired from the practice of medicine, he devotes himself to the craft of fiction. The history of science is of particular interest, but also the dynamics of human relationships. People want to be good scientists, but sometimes human nature gets in the way. That makes for interesting stories. When not writing or traveling, he enjoys restoring Italian racing bicycles at home in Chicago with his wife and daughters.
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