Balzac really is a superb craftsman – sometimes you forget how good particular writers are. This novel has a historical framework which Balzac then makes personal showing how broad events affect the individual and their their destinies. The main protagonists are of Corsican descent and we view their passions within the Napoleonic context. It all ends badly as it often does with Balzac.
In very general terms, what the novel does is convey a choice: to live reasonably, or live passionately which involves risk. At the end you are left equivocal, wondering whether Ginerva’s decision to opt for passion was worth the tragic end. The other main theme shows the destructive nature of revenge or a vendetta. Balzac is masterful and the story is intriguing and affecting – and stays with you.
Soundtrack: The The – True Happiness this way lies.