A Daughter of Eve is one of those stories in which people get themselves into terrible trouble, whose ripples spread until they seem to be stuck in some ghastly maelstrom of their own making. The Countess Marie de Vandenesse, out of boredom at being married to a good man, decides to take a lover, one Raoul Nathan. Thinking that his fortune is made, Nathan quickly finds himself in deep water until he is rescued by the efforts of the Countess, who in turn is rescued.
This excellent novella from the 'private life' collection of Balzac's Comédie Humaine focusses on the elder daughter, Madame Felix de Vandenesse, who has no need to be dissatisfied with her husband, yet naively invites a scandal on herself when she is manoeuvred into an affair by more sophisticated and mischievous ladies.
Her chosen lover, Raoul Nathan, is an ambitious playwright and would-be politician, a man of some genius but with feet of clay. Despite having a devoted mistress, the vaudeville actress Florine, Nathan recklessly courts Madame Felix, little knowing that he to is the dupe of wiser minds.
Each of the principle players receive the forensic treatment in turn, with both their inner and outer physiognomies laid bare in swift, slashing strokes by the always busy pen of Balzac. His descriptions of rooms and their contents are just as detailed.