A charming little introduction to the massive universe of Balzac. The characters are well described here as is the atmosphere of early 19th century Paris. I found this book first at Project Gutenberg where I was hooked by the delightful illustrations in watercolour by Francois Courboin. They are so light and witty that at first you might not appreciate the amount of knowledge and taste that must have gone into them. What a joy it must be to own a copy of this particular edition!
Years ago, at an auction, I bought an old two-volume set of Proust's Remembrance of Things Past in the Scott-Moncrieff translation. It turned out to be the finest book of fiction that I have ever read. It is the only book I know that tells me -in almost scientific detail- what goes through a person's mind, what a sensitive and artistic person actually thinks and feels. The incidents of the book -while fascinating- are not as important as the knowledge Proust gives us of what it is to be a human being.