The Best of Balzac: Père Goriot

During my Balzac phase in 2013, I loved Père Goriot.  (The title of the Penguin is Old Goriot.)  I experienced the thrill of falling into a  spellbinding story and recognizing a tour de force. Père Goriot is said to be one of the best books in Balzac’s La Comédie Humaine (The Human Comedy), a cycle […]

“Post Balzac” & Our “Deconstructed” Edition of Pere Goriot

It is a truth universally acknowledged that everybody photographs everybody else standing beside Judith Shea’s sculpture, “Post Balzac,” at the sculpture park in Des Moines. Shea’s sculpture is based on Rodin’s 1898 “Monument to Balzac,” but they are very different.  While Rodin shows Balzac wrapped in his coat, Shea reveals an empty coat. Shea said […]

Part Two: Winter Recommendations from Bloggers, Commenters & Friends

It’s winter!  What are you reading? It’s time for cocoa and books. And so I asked several bloggers, commenters, and friends for winter recommendations.   Fiction? Poetry?  Nonfiction?  Cozy? Mysteries? Classics?  You’ll find it all. You can read Part One  here. And now: PART TWO, WINTER READING RECOMMENDATIONS Jean writes, Currently, I am reading “The Tale […]

My Favorite Books of 2016

Some favorite books of the year (and more below) My husband and I started making  “Best of the year” lists in the ’90s.  We typed them up in an amateurish newsletter and mailed them to friends.  Our friends laughed at our lists and made counter-lists.   Did we really think the best book was X, the […]

Balzac’s Lost Illusions

If you spend all your leisure in bookstores, you probably are too fond of books. If you spend your time hunting for the lesser-known novels of Balzac, you are probably obsessive. There are approximately 90 novels, novellas, and short stories in Balzac’s La Comedie Humaine (The Human Comedy), a series in which Balzac portrays French […]

Balzac Mania: Eugenie Grandet

Balzac mania. Others have had it, never I. I prefer Zola to Balzac and have read many of Zola’s 20 Rougon-Macquart novels. Of course I’ve also read Balzac over the years, and I love Cousin Bette. But Balzac is choppy.  He includes too much background at the beginning of his novels.  Once you get to […]