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The Vicar of Tours

Honoré de Balzac

Book Overview: 

Over twenty years before Anthony Trollope wrote The Warden, in which the gentle but unfortunate Rev. Septimus Harding becomes the prey of an investigative journalist, in 1831 Balzac published his Vicar of Tours. There too, a mild-mannered priest becomes the prey of powerful enemies, ecclesiastical, social and political. Abbé Birotteau is no intellectual giant, but he does try to get along with others honestly, and suffers when they take advantage of his shortcomings.

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Book Excerpt: 
. . .Mademoiselle Gamard very wisely. She was then about thirty-eight years old, and still retained a few pretensions, which, in well-behaved persons of her condition, change, rather later, into strong personal self-esteem. The canon saw plainly that to live comfortably with his landlady he must pay her invariably the same attentions and be more infallible than the pope himself. To compass this result, he allowed no points of contact between himself and her except those that politeness demanded, and those which necessarily exist between two persons living under the same roof. Thus, though he and the Abbe Troubert took their regular three meals a day, he avoided the family breakfast by inducing Mademoiselle Gamard to send his coffee to his own room. He also avoided the annoyance of supper by taking tea in the houses of friends with whom he spent his evenings. In this way he seldom saw his landlady except at dinner; but he always came down to that meal a few minutes in advance o. . . Read More