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Ursula Paperback – November 5, 2010

4.4 out of 5 stars 8 customer reviews
Book 15 of 21 in the Human Comedy Series

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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

A prolific writer, Honore de Balzac (1799-1850) is generally regarded, along with Gustave Flaubert, as a founding father of realism in European literature, and as one of France's greatest fiction writers. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 136 pages
  • Publisher: CreateSpace (November 5, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1456338102
  • ISBN-13: 978-1456338107
  • Product Dimensions: 7.4 x 0.3 x 9.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #5,592,375 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
When elderly Dr Minoret settles in his family hometown along with a young female ward, Ursule, his vulture-like relatives are ever in the wings waiting to inherit. They grow to hate Ursule, convinced she is scheming to get 'their' money. Without giving too much away, there is a crime, a touch of the supernatural and a pair of starcrossed lovers.
It had me enthralled from page 1; I can see why Balzac considered it a 'remarkable tour de force'. The characters of the horrible relatives in particular are brilliantly drawn eg 'his face was one of those in which it is hard for the thoughtful observer to see any trace of a soul beneath the florid tints of gross, coarsening flesh'. Recommended.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I have come to love Honore de Balzac rather late in life, discovering his works in my fifties after hearing him referenced in my children's recent performance of The Music Man. Who was this author with the interesting name, when (and what) did he write? As a lover of Dickens, Hardy and Hugo, I was destined to love the characterizations created by Honore de Balzac.
I began by reading the novel Ursula, from Balzac's series of stories, The Human Comedy.
...for more information on this review, visit mavierecommence.blogspot.com.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Although Ursula Mirouet is not of the same caliber as Balzac's major masterpieces like Lost Illusions, Cousine Bette, Eugenie Grandet, and Pere Goriot, it is an enjoyable and rewarding story that can be read within a few days; it moves along at a fairly rapid pace and involves hypnotism, hidden documents, love, a crime, apparitions, and scheming relatives. Of note are the observations Balzac makes on the person with a guilty conscience. Also, a sense of God and justice envelopes this world unlike his other novels.
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Format: Paperback
With Balzac's "The Magic Skin" (La Peau de chagrin) with Dickens's "A Christmas Carol", and with Shakespeare's "Macbeth" readers are willing to suspend disbelief because the supernatural premises are given early in the story and they are part of what sells the story to us. Even when the supernatural appears unannounced and unlooked for, as when Caesar's assassins and Richard III are haunted, the device adds to the mood rather than resolve the plot.

Not so here. We have a good story about relatives conspiring to take for themselves a young girl's inheritance. The novel deals with the very real world of the French Civil Code, of family disputes, of kindness to strangers, and of falling in love. So why ruin this with a ridiculous twist?

I'm willing to accept magic when the author lived in a world where everyone believed such things (The Tale of Genji has the most wonderful ghosts, for instance) but when Balzac, who despite his Catholicism was a humanist, decides to have a plot like this depend on ghosts, séances, and Mesmerism, well I almost felt like giving up on the novel. And I would have if I hadn't resolved to read all of the Comédie Humaine.

What makes it unforgiveable is that Mesmerism was already shown to be quackery. An 18th century French royal commission, which had invited American ambassador Benjamin Franklin to join, had even refuted Mesmer's claims by testing them, even following Mesmers instructions, with their feet soaking in basins, holding each other by the thumbs so that the "magnetic fluids" could flow through them. That must have made quite a scene! Deepak Chopra and Uri Geller invented nothing.

So one star above the lowest score for the writing and the characters, but that’s all.
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