Catherine de Medici

Professor, her kind of woman doesn’t belong on any committee.
Of course, I shouldn’t tell you this but she advocates dirty books.

Dirty books!?

Chaucer! Rebelais! BAAAAAALZAC!

That’s right, my dear readers. The Music Man was my very first exposure to Balzac, many many years ago. If I have to guess, I’d say I was in middle school–my sister was young enough to play Amaryllis, when our community theatre put on a big production of all 76 Trombones. Not being a fan of the stage myself, I stuck to the audience, but it was one of the first musicals I fell in love with…maybe because the starring actress was a librarian.

I didn’t know then what a Balzac was, but I knew that if the conservative biddies in the play didn’t like it…I should probably read it.

My first attempt at this apparently brazen author is a book about Catherine de Medici–the Italian woman turned French Queen held responsible for the St. Bartholomew massacre. Balzac apparently is horrendously offended by Catherine’s bloodthirsty reputation, and his magnum opus tries to alter that opinion.

My apologies to Marian the Librarian, but I just do not get it. And to the biddies–what are you so worried about? This is not a “dirty” book at all. Maybe I’m reading the wrong Balzac. For one, it’s terribly boring…when it’s not super confusing. What kind of book IS this? One moment it is a biography….the next it is historical fiction. I DO NOT KNOW WHAT I AM READING!

Apparently, this was released in several parts, and it is a collection of stories. Maybe when Balzac originally wrote it, the format made more sense. But as it is now–one moment there will be a section of semi-intriguing dialogue with a plotline. Then…BOOM…you run smack into a biography wall of boringness. And then you’re back into dialogue again in a different plotline with no introduction.

WHY do the French make me jump through so many hoops to read their books? I do not know. I want to. I do. I just do not know the secret password.

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