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It is a time period I know well (in literature) and couldn't help but compare it to others with a similar theme. The story of the jealous father is typical Balzac but everyting else, I would say, is Balzac following the taste of the time and as such it is not one of his best. It's pleasant to read but when you know what he is capable of... It doesn't compare. If you want to go on reading I'd suggest Le Père Goriot. This is the heart of La Comédie Humaine and will tell you if you really like him. Eugénie Grandet is great as well but it is not set in Paris. I like those set in Paris best.
The end is very well told. And quite sad. It's also incredible that Ginevra, such a talented young woman, was never really encouraged to paint original paintings but had to copy things.
Did you not think it incredible that this father, who was so besotted with the girl, let her down like this?


I've never read Balzac but now I am intrigued to read works within La Comédie Humaine.

Translations can be so tricky, but it sounds like Katherine Prescott Wormeley got this one right.

Interesting review.


I have read a number of Balzac's works but not this one. In addition to those mentioned above I would also recommend 'Cousin Bette' and 'Lost Illusions'. The stories of 'La Comedie Humaine' are linked by common characters who are usually major in one story, and then minor in several others. There is no need to read in sequence, since there is no real sequence.


Caroline--I had a feeling as I was reading that this was not one of his better works, but I'm still glad I read it. I think I will choose one of his others that has been recommended now, however. I was surprised that he made her leave--I thought she would bend him to her will, but I guess the Corsican honor/vendetta was simply to strong. It seems a very provincial way of thinking but must be true to the times and place--I'm still a little confused about the Italian connection since Corsica is a French territory? Perhaps just many people of Italian origin. It was sad she was so talented but she dropped it all and settled for love and marriage. Thanks for reading along--both your post and Emma's have been very helpful--I always get so much more about of a story when I read other's thoughts on it.
JaneGS--It sounds like there are probably other/better books to start with, but The Vendetta was enjoyable enough--interesting in how it fits into the bigger picture. I'm always unsure about translations, but this one didn't seem to dated--there are probably newer ones out there, but this one was convenient (and free!).
Ed--That's good to know they needn't be read in any order. I had a feeling once I started reading about Balzac that this was perhaps not one of the more important stories within the group, still I'm glad I read it. Thanks for the suggestions--I'll have to see what I can get my hands on now. I wonder if any of the characters in this book show up in others?! Hope all is well with you!

Constance Reader

I am not a huge fan of the preachy morality tale, which sours Balzac for me. Which is a shame, because I really dont think anybody does human nature as well as he does.


I really think you should try Letters of Two Brides next. I'm sure you would like it a lot.


I like Balzac a lot - he's the start of the family epic novel and the sex and shopping novel. When you put it like that, you can't be intimidated by him! And he's always an easy read; a bit long-winded occasionally, but definitely easy. My favourites are Eugenie Grandet and The Wild Ass's Skin (I think it translates as - I know it as La peau de chagrin).


I've yet to read Balzac but plan to one of these days. This one sounds like lots of fun, and as you say, a good introduction. And very glad to know the public domain translation is good :)

Dorothy W.

I didn't get along with my first Balzac novel, Cousin Bette, but I think I need to try again. Perhaps a shorter one would work better? It seems worth a try!


Constance Reader--As this is my first Balzac I'm not at all sure how this compares to the rest of his work. Perhaps because it was a very short work it didn't come off too preachy to me, but I do know what you mean in general. I've had that happen with other books!
Caroline--It is available on Project Gutenberg so I will download it to my Nook. I like shorter works to start with when it comes to new authors. I'll have to see if I can find a description of the story--out of curiosity...
Litlove--I like that--how cool that he started it all! :) And I do like epic family novels. I know this is not his best work, but it was a nice place to start and just get a little taste--and nice to know what's in store in terms of better books. I love the French title for The Wild Ass's Skin--much nicer ring to it than the English translation. Thanks for the suggestions--I have several to choose from now.
Stefanie--He has lots of works to choose from--and shorter works, too, which is always nice to know. You can load something on to your Kindle for later. There are probably better translations out there, but this one wasn't bad at all!
Dorothy--The nice thing with Balzac is that he has loads of books--so maybe the next one will work better. A short novel is good--not too much time invested in case you really don't get on with the author.

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