Written in 1846 at the height of Balzac's powers, this novel portrays the stunningly malevolent Cousin Bette and her intricate plans for revenge against the wealthy relatives on whom she depends and whose condescension she bitterly resents. As Bette's insidious deceit relentlessly unravels the lives of the obsessive womanizer Baron Hulot and his angelic wife, Adeline, Balzac displays a sense of verbal comedy as acute as Dickens's and creates a world that is vivid and densely real. Henry James considered him the greatest of all novelists; in Cousin Bette Balzac gives ample proof of his genius. Fox Searchlight's film adaptation, starring Jessica Lange and Elizabeth Shue, will be in theaters in June 1998.
- vince, March 2013
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