Books Should Be Free
Loyal Books
Free Public Domain Audiobooks & eBook Downloads
Search by: Title, Author or Keyword

The Ball at Sceaux   By: (1799-1850)

Book cover

The Ball at Sceaux by Honoré de Balzac is a captivating novella that explores the intricacies of love, desire, and social status in 19th-century France. Set against the backdrop of a lavish ball held at the Château de Sceaux, the story follows the young and elegant Emilie de Fontaine as she navigates through the complex world of courtship and societal expectations.

Balzac's writing style is both poetic and insightful, painting a vivid picture of the opulent ballrooms and the inner workings of the French aristocracy. His astute observations of human nature shine through the characters, each of whom is flawlessly portrayed with their quirks, desires, and motivations. Emilie, in particular, is a well-developed protagonist whose innocence and charm make her instantly relatable.

At the heart of the story lies the theme of love and its many complexities. Balzac expertly explores the different facets of love, from passionate infatuation to strategic marriages based on societal standing. Through Emilie's romantic encounters, he delves into the themes of unrequited love, superficial attraction, and the struggle between following one's heart and adhering to social norms. This exploration of love adds depth and emotional resonance to the narrative.

Another noteworthy aspect of the novella is its critique of the class system and the rigid hierarchies of French society during the time. Balzac exposes the hypocrisy and pretensions of the aristocracy through satirical elements, such as the hilarious descriptions of various characters and their absurd behaviors. His meticulous attention to detail also serves to emphasize the stark contrast between the glamorous façade of the ball and the sometimes miserable lives of the attendees.

Although The Ball at Sceaux is a relatively short novella, Balzac manages to pack a punch with his sharp characterization, layered storytelling, and thought-provoking themes. The narrative moves at a steady pace, with Balzac’s ability to seamlessly transition between moments of comedy and poignant introspection. Every scene feels purposeful and contributes to the overarching narrative, making it a joy to read.

In conclusion, The Ball at Sceaux is a delightful literary gem that showcases Honoré de Balzac's mastery as a writer. With its exquisite prose, well-drawn characters, and insightful commentary on love and societal structures, this novella is a must-read for any lover of classic literature. Balzac's ability to capture the essence of human psychology and his sharp critique of the social order make this book a timeless piece of fiction that continues to resonate with readers today.

First Page:



Translated By Clara Bell

To Henri de Balzac, his brother Honore.


The Comte de Fontaine, head of one of the oldest families in Poitou, had served the Bourbon cause with intelligence and bravery during the war in La Vendee against the Republic. After having escaped all the dangers which threatened the royalist leaders during this stormy period of modern history, he was wont to say in jest, "I am one of the men who gave themselves to be killed on the steps of the throne." And the pleasantry had some truth in it, as spoken by a man left for dead at the bloody battle of Les Quatre Chemins. Though ruined by confiscation, the staunch Vendeen steadily refused the lucrative posts offered to him by the Emperor Napoleon. Immovable in his aristocratic faith, he had blindly obeyed its precepts when he thought it fitting to choose a companion for life. In spite of the blandishments of a rich but revolutionary parvenu, who valued the alliance at a high figure, he married Mademoiselle de Kergarouet, without a fortune, but belonging to one of the oldest families in Brittany.

When the second revolution burst on Monsieur de Fontaine he was encumbered with a large family. Though it was no part of the noble gentlemen's views to solicit favors, he yielded to his wife's wish, left his country estate, of which the income barely sufficed to maintain his children, and came to Paris... Continue reading book >>

eBook Downloads
ePUB eBook
• iBooks for iPhone and iPad
• Nook
• Sony Reader
Kindle eBook
• Mobi file format for Kindle
Read eBook
• Load eBook in browser
Text File eBook
• Computers
• Windows
• Mac

Review this book

Popular Genres
More Genres
Paid Books