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Cousin Bette | [Honore de Balzac]

Cousin Bette

The Bette referred to in this magnificent novel's title is Lisbeth Fischer, an excruciatingly cunning poor relation who both depends upon and nurses a terrible grudge against the family of her beautiful cousin, Adeline. That family is slowly being ruined by the uncontrollable sexual appetites of Adeline's husband, Baron Hulot - appetites that will, in time, give Cousin Bette opportunity to exact her vengeance.
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Publisher's Summary

The Bette referred to in this magnificent novel's title is Lisbeth Fischer, an excruciatingly cunning poor relation who both depends upon and nurses a terrible grudge against the family of her beautiful cousin, Adeline. That family is slowly being ruined by the uncontrollable sexual appetites of Adeline's husband, Baron Hulot - appetites that will, in time, give Cousin Bette opportunity to exact her vengeance.

Balzac described Cousin Bette as one of his "scenes of Parisian life", and it is certainly that. It offers us a hypnotic vision of that infinitely varied city during the bright, vital, scandalous, and sexually untrammeled era of King Louis-Philippe. The courtesans, swindlers, bankers, artists, murderers, detectives, and saints populating this world pass before us invested with a verve and vividness unsurpassed in the history of the novel.

(P)1999 Blackstone Audio Inc.

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

3.7 (98 )
5 star
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3.7 (29 )
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4.1 (28 )
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Performance
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  •  
    Alain santa Fe, NM, United States 12-03-06
    Alain santa Fe, NM, United States 12-03-06 Member Since 2005

    professor. like great and VERY good books, fiction and history, mainly

    HELPFUL VOTES
    118
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    24
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    "Narrator!"

    This is a delightful, witty, scathingly ironic novel of 18th century Paris. Joanna Ward raises it to even greater heights -- she is simply a wonderful narrator.

    19 of 19 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Adrienne Camp Connell, CA, United States 03-18-07
    Adrienne Camp Connell, CA, United States 03-18-07 Member Since 2004
    HELPFUL VOTES
    105
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    44
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    "Mesmerizing"

    This book falls into the category of "can't put it down." I found it to be fascinating and captivating, all of the characters are rich. I found that I had to really listen and pay attention, especially in the beginning, but once I was hooked it was most rewarding. The narrator does an exceptional job. You will think about this story even when you are not listening to it.

    10 of 10 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Gare Washington, DC, USA 04-13-08
    Gare Washington, DC, USA 04-13-08 Member Since 2007
    HELPFUL VOTES
    91
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    Overall
    "Pre-code scandlous fun"

    A fine example of inspired professional writing. I read this book after it was mentioned in Prose's reading like a writer...and I was not disappointed. The style of writing is while florid, still engaging and accessible. The number of French clich?s is a delight to the student of language, but having a basic command of French and Paris will make the book all the more enjoying. I recommend this book as the audio backdrop for a 2 week vacation in Paris.

    But, I warn the naive or moralistic that this book can be quite shocking...although never pornographic. Rich complex, although often cartoonish character studies.

    Good emotional insights, and many tragic insights on the struggles of the un-attractive vs the favored and the transitory nature of both.

    11 of 12 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jed New York, NY, USA 06-25-10
    Jed New York, NY, USA 06-25-10 Member Since 2010
    HELPFUL VOTES
    3
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    "Great reader"

    Johanna Ward is a suberb reader.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Angie Kansas City, MO, United States 04-25-08
    Angie Kansas City, MO, United States 04-25-08 Member Since 2005

    Immigration lawyer in Kansas City. I like Character driven dramas, fantasy (monsters, magic and witches oh my!) and coming of age stories. Favs include: The Book Thief, The Game of Throne series, Harry Potter Series, Dresden Files, Nightside series, anything by Neil Gaimen, 100 Years of Solitude.

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    3
    Overall
    "Excellent"

    I loved this book. it was very modern despite being an old book. It actually reminded me alot of Anna Karinena I would recommend his book to any one. The narrator was excellent too.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Janey Willows, CA, United States 12-19-11
    Janey Willows, CA, United States 12-19-11

    n6neb

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    Story
    "Great story!"
    Would you listen to Cousin Bette again? Why?

    I did listen twice because I could not keep the characters apart and the reader didn't change her voice enough to help me remember individual characters. After I got past that it was easier to listen to.


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    Actually, none of them since none were able to see their own problems let alone do anything about them.


    Did the narration match the pace of the story?

    In the beginning it was difficult to keep the characters apart.


    Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

    No, not possible.


    Any additional comments?

    I was a lot like a modern day soap opera.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Moe Oakland, CA, United States 01-07-10
    Moe Oakland, CA, United States 01-07-10 Member Since 2008
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "A morale tale of greed, envy, and vice."

    I don't know. Though it seems like a good topic roster to listen to, I had trouble staying interested at times. Maybe it was the reading.

    2 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Alla Richmond Hill, Ontario, Canada 09-10-12
    Alla Richmond Hill, Ontario, Canada 09-10-12 Member Since 2012
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Doing justice to Balzac"

    Johanna Ward reads this book beautifully! She clearly has excellent control of both French and English and it shows! Thanks!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Dale C. Farran 01-30-10 Member Since 2009
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Does not stand the test of time"

    The writing is strong and it is easy to see why Balzac is still read. However, the society about which he writes is so unlikeable and Balzac is not writing ironically about it (so it is not clear he knew how narrow minding it was) that listening became quite tiresome. I did not finish it.

    2 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Elizabeth Bellevue, WA, United States 11-09-09
    Elizabeth Bellevue, WA, United States 11-09-09 Member Since 2007

    A school administrator and avid reader and listener of books. At least an hour of every day is spent in the car, and that's where the bulk of my listening is done. I tend to listen to books on "faster" mode so I can get through more books!

    HELPFUL VOTES
    109
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    "Save your money/credits"

    In the hundreds of books I have listened to, this is the second one that I could not finish. Poor narration and story combine to make it a waste of credits.

    2 of 5 people found this review helpful
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