|About the Book|
Having never read Balzac, I had no sense of how human and intimate this story would be. The delicacy of Balzacs descriptions of his heroine--the way in which he tries to capture, without judgment, her emotional universe--was really quite surprising and affecting. To be able to document the first blush of love felt by a provincial, perhaps rather small-minded, young woman with sensitivity and care is no simple task. This felt far more complex and thoughtful a treatment of that subject than anything Ive read that was published in the past ten years--the supposed Golden Age of young adult fiction featuring complex heroines.Otherwise, the rather small scenes of private life in the country, clearly influenced by Austen and her working of that little bit of Ivory, speak of much larger political, cultural, and social transformations in Restoration France. Not knowing much about French history, I suppose I had never really stopped to consider the cynicism and disappointment that attended the period after the fall of Napoleon. Witnessing the ways in which the Revolution scrambled political and social categories, then watching a Corsican military officer become Emperor, and, finally, seeing France humbled by the other Great Powers of Europe would really have been quite the [email protected]!, wouldnt it have been? And, Balzacs almost post-modern suspicion of and boredom with Progress and its effects on morality, the family, and the small town were surprising to me.All to say, this was a happy surprise. Now, onto Pere Goriot. Allons-y.