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An Old Maid   By: (1799-1850)

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An Old Maid by Honoré de Balzac is a brilliant exploration of the complexities of love, societal expectations, and the struggles of navigating a changing world. Combining intricate character development with a captivating storyline, Balzac takes readers on a journey through the life of a remarkable woman, who defies conventional norms in her pursuit of happiness.

At the heart of the story is the protagonist, an aging spinster named Rose-Marie Victoire. Balzac offers a unique perspective into the life of an unmarried woman during the 19th century, shedding light on the challenges faced by those who deviate from traditional paths. Through Rose-Marie, Balzac delves deep into the emotions and experiences of a woman who refuses to conform to societal expectations, highlighting the sacrifices she makes and the loneliness she endures as a result.

The novel is rich in detail, painting a vivid picture of the setting and period in which it is set. Balzac's descriptive prose immerses readers in the world of Rose-Marie, allowing them to fully grasp the struggles and triumphs of her journey. Furthermore, the author effortlessly weaves in social commentary, examining the rigid class structure and its impact on individual lives. This adds depth and complexity to the story, elevating it beyond a simple character study.

Balzac's strength lies in his ability to create multi-dimensional characters who exhibit remarkable depth. Each character in An Old Maid is meticulously crafted, with their own motives and desires. From the convoluted relationship Rose-Marie shares with her family to the intricate dynamics of the society she inhabits, Balzac's characters possess a raw honesty that makes them relatable and compelling.

Plot-wise, the novel keeps readers engaged throughout. Balzac skillfully crafts a narrative that is both introspective and eventful, presenting a balance between internal struggles and external conflicts. As Rose-Marie's life unfolds, unexpected twists and turns keep the story unpredictable and leave readers yearning for more.

If there is any criticism to be leveled at An Old Maid, it may lie in Balzac's occasional tendency toward excessive exposition. At times, the novel can feel overly introspective, potentially alienating readers who prefer a faster pace. However, this flaw is easily outweighed by Balzac's masterful storytelling and his ability to create a narrative that resonates on a deeply emotional level.

In conclusion, An Old Maid is a beautifully crafted novel that captivates with its exploration of unconventional love and the human spirit. Balzac's gift for creating complex characters and his ability to transport readers to a different time and place make this book a must-read for fans of classic literature. Whether examining themes of societal constraints, love, or self-discovery, Balzac's novel offers a thought-provoking and deeply moving reading experience that lingers long after the final page is turned.

First Page:


By Honore De Balzac

Translated by Katharine Prescott Wormeley


To Monsieur Eugene Auguste Georges Louis Midy de la Greneraye Surville, Royal Engineer of the Ponts at Chausses.

As a testimony to the affection of his brother in law,

De Balzac



Most persons have encountered, in certain provinces in France, a number of Chevaliers de Valois. One lived in Normandy, another at Bourges, a third (with whom we have here to do) flourished in Alencon, and doubtless the South possesses others. The number of the Valesian tribe is, however, of no consequence to the present tale. All these chevaliers, among whom were doubtless some who were Valois as Louis XIV. was Bourbon, knew so little of one another that it was not advisable to speak to one about the others. They were all willing to leave the Bourbons in tranquil possession of the throne of France; for it was too plainly established that Henri IV. became king for want of a male heir in the first Orleans branch called the Valois. If there are any Valois, they descend from Charles de Valois, Duc d'Angouleme, son of Charles IX. and Marie Touchet, the male line from whom ended, until proof to the contrary be produced, in the person of the Abbe de Rothelin... Continue reading book >>

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