0123 | Eugénie Grandet – Honoré de Balzac


Context: Finished this off in bed at the in-laws’

Never read any Balzac but certainly will do again. This is a lovely period piece that gives you a great insight into 19th century rural France.

The characters in this, for such a short novel, are very well developed. You really do start to feel for them in some way. In a similar way to Flaubert’s Bovary, this provincial town has a character of its own too.

The story is one of money and how different people deal with it. Eugenie is daughter to the wealthiest man for miles around but lives in virtual poverty with her mother and a faithful servant. The extent to which her father will go to save money and conceal his wealth is fascinating and tragi-comic all at once.

Balzac keeps you going with some very subtle humour which I appreciated and key events unfolding all the way through. He’s a good storyteller and a philosopher to boot with some very erudite observations about human nature, in particular, which is to be expected of a novel written in 1833, bourgeois tendencies.

All in all, a very good read.

There are houses in certain provincial towns whose aspect inspires melancholy, akin to that called forth by sombre cloisters, dreary moorlands, or the desolation of ruins.


It often happens that certain actions of human life seem, literally speaking, improbable, though actual. Is not this because we constantly omit to turn the stream of psychological light upon our impulsive determinations, and fail to explain the subtile reasons, mysteriously conceived in our minds, which impelled them?

Neither la Grande Nanon nor Cornoiller has sufficient mind to understand the corruptions of the world.

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