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A Second Home Kindle Edition
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About the Author
- Publication Date : December 5, 2019
- File Size : 1710 KB
- Word Wise : Enabled
- Print Length : 85 pages
- Publisher : Good Press (December 5, 2019)
- Language: : English
- ASIN : B082FGSM5Z
- Enhanced Typesetting : Enabled
- Screen Reader : Supported
- Text-to-Speech : Enabled
- X-Ray : Not Enabled
- Lending : Not Enabled
- Customer Reviews:
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The writings of Honoré de Balzac usually bear titles that give the reader no indication whatsoever of what they're about. Such is not the case with Une Double Famille (A Second Home), a novella originally published in 1830. The title lets the cat out of the bag, confirming any suspicions the reader may have in regards to the unusual nature of the lovers' relationship. Even the main characters seem to see the shocking revelation coming a mile away. The fact that the ending is a foregone conclusion is not the story's biggest flaw, however. The main problem with this novella is its structure. The book is essentially cut in half. The first story, as described above, deeply involves the reader in the lives of Madame Crochard and her daughter. Just when things are really starting to take off, however, Balzac flashes back several years and begins a second, parallel story, this time from the gentleman's perspective, with the promise that the two tales will eventually meet in the end. The man's tale is as engaging as the woman's, but when the twain finally meet the conclusion is less than impressive. The narrative just grinds to a depressing halt. Balzac builds the foundations for two good stories, but caps them off with a conclusion that is worthy of neither.
Marriage--what makes one work or fail--is a favorite topic of Balzac's, but this is not his best take on the subject. Another topic he covers to better effect in Une Double Famille is religion. In the translation by Clara Bell, done about a century ago, the word "bigot" is frequently used, not in the way we use it today, to mean a racist, but in an earlier sense of the word, meaning a religious zealot. In his depiction of the "bigot" in question, Balzac delivers some of his most biting commentary on religion, which must have been quite shocking for his time. The scandalous subject matter of Une Double Famille may have provided the Parisian audience of its day with a fair degree of titillation, but for today's reader the work holds few surprises. While Balzac's admirable talent for creating memorable characters and situations is quite evident, this piece is by no means an outstanding example of his body of work. Ardent fans of Balzac's Comédie Humaine will like it, but casual readers of Balzac shouldn't go out of their way for it.
He sets her up in a cozy home and she bears him children. Their arrangement is never mentioned. He arrives and expects her there, he never takes her out but he does come often. This is the man's second home but it is his first home he neglects because he finds no love or warmth there. At his family's bidding, he had married an eminently presentable but overly pious and dour woman and her home is cold.
A scandal? Not really. Parisian society forgives such things. The man, a well-known magistrate, is after all responsible: he avoids spending time with his wife but he does not spurn her and he sees to the needs of his lover and her children.
But does he really love his mistress or is he simply seeking the warmth and devotion he cannot find with his wife?
Vincent Poirier, Québec City