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REVIEW La cousine Bette

When Bette learns that the man she is in love with plans to marry Hortense she becomes consumed by the desire to exact her revenge and dedicates herself to the destruction of the Hulot family plotting their ruin with patient silent malice Cousin Bette is a gri. I am no literary critic I will merely try and express what I experienced while reading this book I am glad I read it but I admire the author s opus than I enjoyed it Honestly it was often a struggle It has a very slow start The book s narrator after a third of the way through states that only now will the story begin All that before had just been an introduction to the characters That introduction doesn t read as a normal introduction you are thrown into events that you scarcely comprehend Often I was confused and so also upset but always I did eventually come to understand what was happening There are lots of characters Actually the number is not the main problem The confusion is caused by the immense amount of details thrown at you When I begin a book I have no idea where the book is leading so I try and remember e v e r y t h i n g I was swamped From all these details the author does periodically summarize and clarify so you do understand These details do serve a purpose they very accurately depict life in Paris in the early 1840s The book was first published in serial format in Le Constitutionanel Balzac wrote it to compete against another popular feuilleton author Eug ne Sue of a socialist bent Balzac supported the House of Bourbon and venerated Napol on Bonaparte as a champion of absolutist power Balzac s aim was to realistically describe life after Napol on s fall Given that it was published as a feuilleton he was writing for people of his day References are made to individuals and events that were the talk of the town So they understood what he was referring to much better than we do Much is left unexplained In addition the popularity and success of the writing depended upon keeping readers engaged Melodrama excitement titillating scenes and moralistic elements pepper the writing This very much affects the writing style I think he magnificently depicts the different social classes vying against each other in Paris but as with other books written in serial format something uick and exciting must happen in each episode Do you see why I admire the writing but don t really love it Then there are the characters Some critics say his figures are complex I didn t see them that way The reader easily spots different character types Bette think of one seeking revenge She is the cousin of Adeline Val rie Marneffe the beautiful seductive greedy mistress of four And she is marriedBaron Hector Hulot consumed by sex Let s just call him the dirty old man Baroness Adeline Hulot Hector s saintly wifeC lestin Crevel the wealthy retired tradesman and rival of Hulot Here and elsewhere Balzac shows the importance of wealthWenceslas Steinbock the artist Here Balzac has a chance to spell out what it takes to succeed in art hard work You can reflect on Balzac s own efforts He wrote this novel in two months His health suffered There are several figures in the familiesHortense Hulot daughter of the Hulots married to WenceslasVictorin Hulot the Hulots son married to CelestineCelestine Crevel s daughter married to VictorinMar chal Hulot Hector Hulot s honorable brotherJohann Fischer an uncle of the Hulot family someone handy to send to Algiers to embezzle fundsAnd mistresses and loversJos pha Mirah singer Jewish abandoned childBaron Henri Mont s de Mont janos another Baron another lover but Brazilian this timeAgathe kitchenmaid mistress andI am listing the characters for two reasons To help those planning on reading the book and to illustrate the caricature each represents I prefer complicated complex characters I don t see them that way There is a strong moral message conveyed Yet Balzac did have a great idea in writing his Com die humaine a multi volume collection of interlinked novels sharing many of the same characters He completed over 90 novels and had begun over 40 You hit upon characters that have turned up in other novels You remember other things they have done and said This added depth for me In P re Goriot I met the criminal in hiding Vautrin Here he is in the police force and we meet of his family Doctor Bianchon was one of the diners at the lodging house Mason Vauue We meet him here too I liked this very much You don t have to read the books in a particular order but the you read and the you know the fuller the story becomes As in real life as with real people the you learn about each the interesting they become You become curious for The audiobook I listened to was narrated by Johanna Ward Kate Reading She knows how to pronounce French correctly That is important For me she spoke too uickly She dramatizes but she does this well Me I would give the narration four starsSo the book IS worth reading but it is difficult You have to pay close attention It is by no means an easy read For me it was a bit too didactic a bit to melodramatic its characters a bit too simplified The next I will read from the Com die humaine will be Eug nie Grandet My curiosity has been piued and I do want but I need a breather first

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La cousine Bette

Poor plain spinster Bette is compelled to survive on the condescending patronage of her socially superior relatives in Paris her beautiful saintly cousin Adeline the philandering Baron Hulot and their daughter Hortense Already deeply resentful of their wealth. This is a soap opera masuerading as a classic It has all the right ingredients A husband a baron who has spent all the family money on other women A wife who justifies acting like a doormat by saying it is religious feminine submission An in law who threatens to put the kybosh on any potential good match marriage for their dowry less but pretty and rather boring daughter Hortense if religious doormat doesn t sleep with him Cousin Bette the protagonist of the story who is the plain poor relation given shelter by the Baron but must earn her own living and who is a jealous vengeful and cunning woman A talented sculptor who leads on and exploits Cousin Bette for what she can do for him but falls in love with Hortense and marries her after he has become rich through using her connections A beautiful mistresswhore Valerie Lots of French classics have a woman who exploits her looks but is eventually brought low Camille in La Dame aux Cam lias Nana Madame Bovary to name a few I ve read The poor but handsome lover of the mistress who is used for sex and spurned because he hasn t got enough money He s going to have his revenge too More than a hint of lesbianism between the vengeful Bette and the greedy ValerieEveryone gets their just desserts in the end except mystifingly the Baron who on his saintly wife s demise marries a servant girl and is happy as a hare in clover satisfied with his comfortable life and lots of sexBalzac did write this as a series and it is both light fiction and great literature It explores the themes of wealth beauty cruelty passion and religion in an elegant fashion This is what makes it such a good read a good plot great characters and plenty of depth to flesh out the story into a real experience But 4 stars rather than 5 because it does take a bit of wading through Maggie plain spinster Bette is compelled to survive on the condescending Love By Design patronage of her socially superior relatives in Paris her beautiful saintly cousin Adeline the Secret Classrooms philandering Baron Hulot and their daughter Hortense Already deeply resentful of their wealth. This is a soap opera masuerading as a classic It has all the right ingredients A husband a baron who has spent all the family money on other women A wife who justifies acting like a doormat by saying it is religious feminine submission An in law who threatens to Beautiful Torment Beautiful 1 put the kybosh on any Endless Chain potential good match marriage for their dowry less but Pretty Tough pretty and rather boring daughter Hortense if religious doormat doesn t sleep with him Cousin Bette the the-mist protagonist of the story who is the Venus 13 plain Boss Man poor relation given shelter by the Baron but must earn her own living and who is a jealous vengeful and cunning woman A talented sculptor who leads on and exploits Cousin Bette for what she can do for him but falls in love with Hortense and marries her after he has become rich through using her connections A beautiful mistresswhore Valerie Lots of French classics have a woman who exploits her looks but is eventually brought low Camille in La Dame aux Cam lias Nana Madame Bovary to name a few I ve read The Growing Rails Applications In Practice poor but handsome lover of the mistress who is used for sex and spurned because he hasn t got enough money He s going to have his revenge too More than a hint of lesbianism between the vengeful Bette and the greedy ValerieEveryone gets their just desserts in the end except mystifingly the Baron who on his saintly wife s demise marries a servant girl and is happy as a hare in clover satisfied with his comfortable life and lots of sexBalzac did write this as a series and it is both light fiction and great literature It explores the themes of wealth beauty cruelty passion and religion in an elegant fashion This is what makes it such a good read a good Zaraza plot great characters and D Live Vol 4 plenty of depth to flesh out the story into a real experience But 4 stars rather than 5 because it does take a bit of wading through

Honoré de Balzac é 9 SUMMARY

Pping tale of violent jealousy sexual passion and treachery and a brilliant portrayal of the grasping bourgeois society of 1840's Paris The culmination of the Comedie humaine Balzac's epic chronicle of his times it is one of his greatest triumphs as a novelist. This tale involves a byzantine plan of revenge by old maid Bette over the theft of a young sculptor she had designs for It was a great device for all the greedy aristocratic people to achieve their just deserts There is also a satisfying comic touch in the way her courtesan confidante is able to juggle four lovers and play them off against each other But the narrative bogs down for me a lot over the repetitive competition for each others mistresses and arcane schemes for money Still as an audiobook experience with a free Librivox recording on my commutes to work it was a diverting sociological experience with Paris society circa 1830 and a nice window on the French tradition of blending realism with romanticism


10 thoughts on “La cousine Bette

  1. says:

    This is a soap opera masuerading as a classic It has all the right ingredients A husband a baron who has spent all the family money on other women A wife who justifies acting like a doormat by saying it is religious feminine submission An in law who threatens to put the kybosh on any potential good match marriage for their dowry less but pretty and rather boring daughter Hortense if religious doormat doesn't sleep with

  2. says:

    Compelling and unsavory characters drew me into Honore de Balzac's Cousin Bette 1846 The main plot centers on Cousin Bette's revenge on her family; however all the stories which make up the novel are imbued by obsessions which drive the narrative to its dark end Much of how I described Balzac's earlier novel Pere Goriot holds true f

  3. says:

    SWEET LAND OF LIBERTINES If you fancy yourself a moralist you may wanna skip this one As the undoubted precursor toplaybook for modern day soap operas Cousin Bette involves marital cruelty sexual blackmail spite filled revenge prostitution unconscionable adultery women with irresistible sexual allure to men men and women having a nu

  4. says:

    Despite some narrative leaps and a reversal of fortune for several of the characters I truly loved this novel It was a perfect snowy weekend for such The pacing except for the end was sublime and supported with eual measures of vitriol and detailThere is much to say about a family in decline if not peril I rank Cousin Bette with Buddenbrook

  5. says:

    I am no literary critic I will merely try and express what I experienced while reading this book I am glad I read it but I admire the

  6. says:

    This is the third time I have read this late masterpiece of Balzac's and it got better with each reading There have been other novels mostly European about men who have ruined themselves for illicit love of other women but Balzac's Baron Hector Hulot goes further than any of them At the beginning of Cousin Bette he is at his apogee married to

  7. says:

    Despite the title cousin Bette does not at least apparently play the lead role Balzac's attention is not so much draw to the biography of a character as to the biography of the epoch Intriguing voluntary sadistic tenacious hypocritical the modest cousin embodies in a synthetic portrait the features of the clas

  8. says:

    My first Balzac I had the impression somewhere that I would have to sit through some dreary pompous horrorshow perhaps pulpy purple prose with a plethora of prodigious penuriesBut to be sure I did get a horrorshow but not the kind I expected Indeed I had a great time once I fell into a certain kind of groove You know what I mean The

  9. says:

    This tale involves a byzantine plan of revenge by old maid Bette over the theft of a young sculptor she had designs for It was a great device for all the greedy aristocratic people to achieve their just deserts There is also a satisfying comic touch in the way her courtesan confidante is able to juggle four lovers and play them off against each other But the narrative bogs down for me a lot over the repetitive competition for each

  10. says:

    Spoilers Inside Sigh It is a shame to give only 3 stars to a book so elouently written but what will linger in my mind ab

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