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An Historical Mystery   By: (1799-1850)

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An Historical Mystery is a captivating novel by Honore de Balzac that takes readers back in time to unravel an intriguing mystery set in 17th-century France. Balzac effortlessly weaves a tale that combines elements of historical fiction, romance, and suspense, creating a truly unique reading experience.

Set during the reign of Louis XIV, the story centers around two protagonists, La Cibot and Baron de Sallenauve. La Cibot, a seemingly ordinary and unremarkable servant, discovers a hidden secret that threatens to unravel her world. The revelation sets off a chain of events that involve political intrigue, aristocratic scandals, and forbidden love, all carefully intertwined to keep readers guessing until the very end.

One of the standout features of the book is Balzac's meticulous attention to historical detail. From descriptions of lavish ballrooms to the ornate settings of Versailles, the author effortlessly transports readers to 17th-century France. The vivid imagery enhances the overall reading experience, immersing readers in the opulence and grandeur of the era.

Balzac's skillful characterization adds depth to the narrative. La Cibot is a complex and multi-layered character whose motives and actions keep readers guessing. Her transformation throughout the story is mesmerizing, as she navigates through treacherous political waters and battles her own inner demons in her pursuit of the truth. Similarly, the enigmatic Baron de Sallenauve is a compelling character, whose mysterious past and noble demeanor captivate readers from the start.

The pacing of the novel is excellently balanced. Balzac effortlessly interweaves the historical context, the romance, and the mystery, ensuring that no aspect of the story overwhelms the others. The plot twists and turns keep readers engaged and eager to uncover the truth, while the romantic subplot adds depth and emotional resonance to the narrative.

However, An Historical Mystery does have some flaws. At times, the narrative can feel overly verbose, with extensive descriptions that slow down the pacing. Additionally, the extensive cast of secondary characters could be overwhelming for some readers, making it difficult to keep track of their roles and relationships.

Despite these minor flaws, An Historical Mystery is a captivating and thought-provoking novel. Balzac's exquisite writing style, attention to detail, and well-developed characters make this a compelling read for fans of historical fiction, mysteries, and romance. Whether you're a longtime fan of Balzac or new to his works, this novel is sure to leave a lasting impression.

First Page:


(The Gondreville Mystery)

By Honore De Balzac

Translated by Katharine Prescott Wormeley


To Monsieur de Margone.

In grateful remembrance, from his guest at the Chateau de Sache.

De Balzac.




The autumn of the year 1803 was one of the finest in the early part of that period of the present century which we now call "Empire." Rain had refreshed the earth during the month of October, so that the trees were still green and leafy in November. The French people were beginning to put faith in a secret understanding between the skies and Bonaparte, then declared Consul for life, a belief in which that man owes part of his prestige; strange to say, on the day the sun failed him, in 1812, his luck ceased!

About four in the afternoon on the fifteenth of November, 1803, the sun was casting what looked like scarlet dust upon the venerable tops of four rows of elms in a long baronial avenue, and sparkling on the sand and grassy places of an immense rond point , such as we often see in the country where land is cheap enough to be sacrificed to ornament. The air was so pure, the atmosphere so tempered that a family was sitting out of doors as if it were summer... Continue reading book >>

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