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A Second Home   By: (1799-1850)

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In "A Second Home" by Honoré de Balzac, readers are transported to the heart of rural France, where the lives of two families intertwine in a tale of love, ambition, and societal expectations.

Set in the idyllic village of Sancerre, the novel revolves around the lives of two patriarchs, Monsieur Wilbert, and Monsieur Jean-Jacques. Despite their stark differences in social stature and upbringing, the two men share a deep connection through their shared love for Sancerre and its surrounding vineyards. Balzac beautifully illustrates the essence of this picturesque village, painting a vivid backdrop against which the characters' stories unfold.

At the center of the narrative is a complex web of relationships, secrets, and hidden desires that keep the readers engaged throughout the book. Balzac skillfully explores the themes of forbidden love and the consequences of societal expectations, challenging traditional notions of class divisions and social norms prevalent during the era. The author's masterful characterization allows readers to fully immerse themselves in the emotional turmoil experienced by the individuals in this close-knit community.

Moreover, Balzac's rich prose captures the evocative language of the French countryside beautifully, almost making it a character of its own. Through his descriptions, readers can almost taste the rich flavors of Sancerre's renowned wines, feel the gentle breeze that brushes against the vineyards, and hear the whispering secrets carried in the air. Balzac's attention to detail creates a sensory experience that transports readers to this enchanting world.

One of the novel's greatest strengths lies in its ability to tackle timeless themes that still resonate with modern readers. From the exploration of love and loss to the struggles faced by women in a patriarchal society, Balzac's narrative offers a plethora of thought-provoking insights, prompting readers to reflect upon their own lives and circumstances.

While the plot unfolds at a leisurely pace, occasionally meandering through unnecessary details, Balzac's ability to infuse each scene with emotional depth compensates for any moments of narrative sluggishness. Each character's journey is a delicate dance between heartache and triumph, with moments of both joy and sorrow that captivate the reader's attention.

"A Second Home" is a testament to Balzac's prowess as a storyteller, creating a world that feels real and tangible, populated by characters that are flawed, yet profoundly relatable. This novel is a treasure trove for lovers of classic literature, offering a glimpse into a bygone era and exploring the universal human experiences that transcend time and place. Whether you are a steadfast Balzac enthusiast or a newcomer to his work, "A Second Home" is a compelling read that will leave a lasting impression.

First Page:


By Honore De Balzac

Translated by Clara Bell


To Madame la Comtesse Louise de Turheim as a token of remembrance and affectionate respect.


The Rue du Tourniquet Saint Jean, formerly one of the darkest and most tortuous of the streets about the Hotel de Ville, zigzagged round the little gardens of the Paris Prefecture, and ended at the Rue Martroi, exactly at the angle of an old wall now pulled down. Here stood the turnstile to which the street owed its name; it was not removed till 1823, when the Municipality built a ballroom on the garden plot adjoining the Hotel de Ville, for the fete given in honor of the Duc d'Angouleme on his return from Spain.

The widest part of the Rue du Tourniquet was the end opening into the Rue de la Tixeranderie, and even there it was less than six feet across. Hence in rainy weather the gutter water was soon deep at the foot of the old houses, sweeping down with it the dust and refuse deposited at the corner stones by the residents. As the dust carts could not pass through, the inhabitants trusted to storms to wash their always miry alley; for how could it be clean? When the summer sun shed its perpendicular rays on Paris like a sheet of gold, but as piercing as the point of a sword, it lighted up the blackness of this street for a few minutes without drying the permanent damp that rose from the ground floor to the first story of these dark and silent tenements... Continue reading book >>

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