Lisa's Reviews > At the Sign of the Cat and Racket

At the Sign of the Cat and Racket by Honoré de Balzac
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's review
Jan 20, 11

bookshelves: balzac-read, 19thcentury, france
Read in January, 2011

** spoiler alert ** This is another of those stories where Balzac contrasts marriage for love with marriage for material gain, and this time marriage for love is sabotaged by the wife's lack of education.
There are two daughters, Virginie (plain and boring) and Augustine (gorgeous and desirable). Two chaps fall in love with Augustine, and nobody falls for Virginie.
Her father, a successful tailor who serves the wealthy and powerful, manages to marry her off to one of his apprentices, who has to take second-best because Augustine falls for a painter and marries him instead. Alas, she is out of her depth, because when the first fine flush of passion wears off, Theodore de Sommervieux becomes bored because Augustine's parents have failed to educate her for society. They live a prudent life to the point of parsimony, and so she isn't witty, hasn't read anything and can't say anything intelligent about art or music. So Theodore takes his pleasures elsewhere and although Augustine humiliates herself trying to get him back it doesn't work and it all ends badly.
And Virginie who didn't marry for love has settled into contentment.
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