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The Brotherhood of Consolation   By: (1799-1850)

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The Brotherhood of Consolation by Honoré de Balzac is a thought-provoking and captivating novel that delves deep into the complexities of human nature, love, and social class in 19th century France. Balzac, known for his realistic portrayals of society, once again delivers a masterpiece filled with vivid characters and intricate storytelling.

The story revolves around the lives of Madame de Beauséant and Marquise d'Aiglemont, two women from different social backgrounds who find solace in their shared pain and seek comfort in the "Brotherhood of Consolation." The brotherhood, a secret society for those afflicted by misfortunes, provides an escape from their personal struggles and offers an opportunity for personal growth and redemption.

Balzac's narrative style is both descriptive and engaging, allowing readers to fully immerse themselves in the emotions and experiences of the characters. His attention to detail brings the streets of Paris to life, while also shedding light on the stark class divisions and societal pressures of the time.

What sets The Brotherhood of Consolation apart is Balzac's exploration of the intricacies of love and its consequences. Through Madame de Beauséant and Marquise d'Aiglemont's respective experiences, the novel brilliantly captures the often-destructive power of unrequited love, as well as the sacrifices individuals make in the pursuit of happiness.

Furthermore, Balzac's characters are incredibly well-developed and exhibit a range of emotions and flaws that make them relatable and dynamic. Madame de Beauséant, in particular, is a compelling protagonist, as her struggle for emotional independence and self-discovery resonates with readers across generations.

However, despite its many strengths, The Brotherhood of Consolation does have moments of slow pacing, especially in the detailed descriptions and societal observations that can be overwhelming at times. Additionally, the novel's complex web of relationships and interconnections may require some effort to follow, but the reward is a profound and satisfying reading experience.

In conclusion, The Brotherhood of Consolation stands as a testament to Balzac's extraordinary ability to capture the essence of human existence and the complexities of society. It is a timeless tale that explores the universal themes of love, class, and personal redemption, leaving readers introspective and yearning for more.

First Page:


By Honore De Balzac

Translated by Katharine Prescott Wormeley



On a fine evening in the month of September, 1836, a man about thirty years of age was leaning on the parapet of that quay from which a spectator can look up the Seine from the Jardin des Plantes to Notre Dame, and down, along the vast perspective of the river, to the Louvre. There is not another point of view to compare with it in the capital of ideas. We feel ourselves on the quarter deck, as it were, of a gigantic vessel. We dream of Paris from the days of the Romans to those of the Franks, from the Normans to the Burgundians, the Middle Ages, the Valois, Henri IV., Louis XIV., Napoleon, and Louis Philippe. Vestiges are before us of all those sovereignties, in monuments that recall their memory. The cupola of Sainte Genevieve towers above the Latin quarter. Behind us rises the noble apsis of the cathedral. The Hotel de Ville tells of revolutions; the Hotel Dieu, of the miseries of Paris. After gazing at the splendors of the Louvre we can, by taking two steps, look down upon the rags and tatters of that ignoble nest of houses huddling between the quai de la Tournelle and the Hotel Dieu, a foul spot, which a modern municipality is endeavoring at the present moment to remove... Continue reading book >>

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