"La Cousine Bette" is one of Balzac's finest, and longest novels. Incredibly rich and complex, particularly in its plot and the number of characters and their interactions, it is a compelling story of family intrigue, class struggle, love and ambition. Bette, a poor rustic cosuin of a reasonably wealthy and influential family, plots their downfall without their ever knowing it. The head of the household falls into dissipation, abusing his position to embezzle money in order to fund his mistresses; his wife maintains her dignifty whilst her life collapses around her; the daughter falls in love with a young sculptor, who is kept by Bette after she rescues him from a suicide attempt. A great novel, and a wonderful portrait of Restoration France.