1 March 2024 Susannah

Eugénie Grandet

Eugenie Grandet by Honoré de Balzac

On a recent flight with Ethiopian Airlines I was delighted to find, amongst an otherwise poor movie selection, a 2021 film of Balzac’s masterpiece Eugénie Grandet, the story of a miser and his patient, loving daughter. I loved watching it – atmospheric, glorious French scenery, fabulous acting, and Balzac’s heart-rending story of a girl who longs for love, and is rejected as too poor although her father has hidden wealth. The novel is my favourite French novel of all time.

Because of my love for it, I have visited the town of Saumur where it is set (soon after the book was published, some enterprising person announced which house in town was ‘the home of Eugénie Grandet and charged people to see it – it is still there). And I have visited Balzac’s homes in Paris and at the Château de Saché where he wrote his books. Saché is everything a small French château ought to be, set by a river, with an ancient barn, winding stairs and elegant rooms, and plenty of items on display about Honoré de Balzac. In my video talk about ‘Literary France – Susannah’s Top Ten Places to Visit’ the serene and lovely Château de Saché ranks very highly. I will be taking a tour group there in early June and we will picnic in the barn after exploring the house. There are still two rooms available on that tour, so do think of joining me in a glorious exploration of Normandy, Brittany and so many other lovely places in northern France.

And do consider reading Eugénie Grandet, published in 1833, one of the greatest portrayals of a miser ever written, and watching the lovely new film version.

Do you have a favourite French novel? If so, I’d love to hear what it is. Let me know by leaving a comment.

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