Love and marriage, French Empire style
|Honoré de Balzac|
Thus a complicated love pentagon is established, in which each player schemes to satisfy his or her own romantic and financial interests. The atmosphere Balzac creates is one in which sentimental notions of love and honor are meaningless and reputation is the only inhibition. The story never takes itself too seriously, and it’s fun to watch the fortunes of the two gentlemen friends rise and fall over the course of the evening. Eventually the identity of the mystery woman is revealed, but it’s not as shocking as Balzac intended. There is an enjoyable cleverness to Domestic Peace. Its twists and turns are entertaining, but in the end it feels rather insubstantial. It is, after all, just a party. What it has to say about love and marriage was much more relevant to the society in which Balzac lived than to the audience of today, and readers of the 21st century will find it far less scandalous and titillating than those of the 19th. It is a competently executed piece, but not even close to Balzac at his best. Unless you are an enthusiastic fan of Balzac’s Comédie Humaine, there’s no reason to go out of your way for this one.
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