Baruch Spinoza was a seventeenth-century Dutch philosopher who tried to reinvent religion, moving it away from something based on superstition and ideas of direct divine intervention to being a discipline that was going to be far more impersonal, quasi-scientific. And yet - Gabriella feels - it can be serenely consoling. She loves reading his cool, calm, very reasonable words when she’s feeling stressed about the neighbour’s dog barking, the state of the planet, or her future prospects in the crowded academic work-place.