Whilst the I would go along with many of the other reviewer's comments, particularly the similarity to the story of King Lear, I would not hold with this work, amusing as it is, to be comparable to Shakespeare!! However, as an introduction to Balzac's work, it is a good start and shows the Frenchman to be writing in his typically affected style in a tale that perhaps evokes some aspects of Dickens.
Like the Englishman, Balzac had the gift of defining the characters of the people within his novels through their dialogue which if often very amusing, particularly when the reader is aware of something of which the speaker is ignorant.In my opinion, the novel is worth reading for the presence of one such character, his greatest creation, the criminal mastermind Vautrin. I always picture Vautrin as being rather like Long John Silver with his ability to charm his acquaintances when his motives are clearly less than good intentioned and , frequently evil. Cerainly, the best parts of this book are when Vautrin makes an appearance. Luckily, the central character of the book Rastignac is too wise for him. Elsewhere, the story concerns the fate of another character who lives within the Parisian boarding house of Madame Vauquer, the unfortunate M. Goriot who we learn has sacrificed everything for the well being of his daughters.
This is one of the better books by Balzac but readers wishing to explore more of his work should be warned that, unlike the far superior Charles Dickens, there is not alot of variety amongst his many works. (This can probably be due to the fact that his publishers paid him by the line with the consequence that the quality is somewhat diluted.) However, if you are a newcomer to Balzac, this is an excellent introduction that will keep you amused with it's superior storyline and , of course, the gallic wit.