This short tale is part of La Comedie Humaine and falls into the sub-category of scenes from private life. This is a minor work from that well known corpus and it is very enjoyable. The remains of the Piombo family arrive in Paris in 1800; after there long standing feud with the Portas family which they have nearly annihilated they are looking for protection and security. As the head of the family, Bartolomeo is a friend of the Bonapartes and is welcomed by them.
Jump fifteen years into the future and we find that this family are living quite respectably and comfortably despite the misfortunes befalling Napoleon. Gradually the daughter of the family, Ginevra falls in love with one of Napoleon's former soldiers, Louis. As their relationship blossoms and Ginevra and Louis wish to marry, Bartolomeo is upset that he will lose his daughter. When Louis and Bartolomeo meet for the first time though sparks really start to fly. Louis is really Luigi Porta, who Batolomeo thought he had killed many years ago. The ancient vendetta once more rears its ugly head, but Ginevra, proud and haughty like her father is determined to marry her love Louis/ Luigi.
Disinherited by her father Ginevra and Louis become married and through their hard work become quite comfortable within their first year. As time rolls on however the two are slowly falling into poverty especially trying to make ends meet when they have a child. This is a charming little tale of romance and melodrama, combined with realism, and will tug at your heart strings.
Howard Curtis, who translated this edition also gives a detailled introduction showing the influences, both fictional and true life that helped to inspire this short tale. If you are coming to Balzac for the first time you may like to read this as an idea of what follows in his more famous novels and masterpieces.
on 12 April 2013
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