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About the Author: Honoré de Balzac

Honoré de Balzac was a nineteenth-century French novelist and playwright. His magnum opus was a sequence of almost 100 novels and plays collectively entitled La Comédie humaine, which presents a panorama of French life in the years after the fall of Napoléon Bonaparte in 1815.

Due to his keen observation of detail and unfiltered representation of society, Balzac is regarded as one of the founders of realism in European literature. He is renowned for his multi-faceted characters; even his lesser characters are complex, morally ambiguous and fully human. Inanimate objects are imbued with character as well; the city of Paris, a backdrop for much of his writing, takes on many human qualities. His writing influenced many famous authors, including the novelists Marcel Proust, Émile Zola, Charles Dickens, Gustave Flaubert, Henry James and Jack Kerouac, as well as important philosophers such as Friedrich Engels. Many of Balzac's works have been made into films, and they continue to inspire other writers.

An enthusiastic reader and independent thinker as a child, Balzac had trouble adapting himself to the teaching style of his grammar school. His willful nature caused trouble throughout his life, and frustrated his ambitions to succeed in the world of business. When he finished school, Balzac was apprenticed as a legal clerk, but he turned his back on law after wearying of its inhumanity and banal routine. Before and during his career as a writer, he attempted to be a publisher, printer, businessman, critic, and politician. He failed in all of these efforts. La Comédie Humaine reflects his real-life difficulties, and includes scenes from his own experience.

Balzac suffered from health problems throughout his life, possibly due to his intense writing schedule. His relationship with his family was often strained by financial and personal drama, and he lost more than one friend over critical reviews. In 1850, he married Ewelina Hańska, his longtime paramour; he died five months later.


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Goodreads rating: 3.79

Paperback, Published in Apr 2013 by Random House UK

ISBN10: 0099560860 | ISBN13: 9780099560869

Page count: 244

Published in association with the Orange Prize for fiction, with an introduction by Rose Tremain, describing why she chose it as the book she'd like to pass on to the next generation
 Monsieur Grandet is a very rich man whose chief care is his gold. He runs his household with exacting miserly attention and his wife and daughter suffer a Spartan existence. On the evening of his daughter Eugénie's 23rd birthday his foppish nephew Charles suddenly arrives from Paris. Eugénie has never known passion, but now, in an instant, she falls in love and her life is changed forever. Monsieur Grandet will not countenance his daughter's marriage to her penniless cousin and Eugénie's determination to follow her heart leads her into direct conflict with her father.

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