From Monday the 2nd of January 2012, Alex will be reading the book at bedtime on Radio 4, on weeknights at 10.45 pm.
A tale of seductive women and philandering men, of passionate affairs
and spiralling debts, Cousin Bette paints a vivid portrait of Paris in
the 1830s and '40s. It's a city full of temptations, in which money is
king, morals are loose and the appeals of the virtuous are usually in
vain. In the midst of it all sits a poor relation, Cousin Bette, like a
spider in her web. Fuelled by bitterness and jealousy, she is determined
to weave destruction into the lives of her extended family, the
socially superior Hulots.
With her friend and accomplice, the beautiful Madame Marneffe, Bette
sets out to manipulate events so that men are brought to their knees and
their wives to despair, and she attains the power and prestige she
Cousin Bette was written in less than a year, in serial instalments,
often only completed just before the deadline. Within its pages, Balzac
conjures a kaleidoscope of characters from all walks of life, chronicles
the rise of a grasping bourgeoisie and tells a gripping tale of
jealousy, passion and treachery.
Many thanks to Jen.