Up to perhaps halfway through this novel, I thought this would be the last Balzac I would read (not that I have read many). When I put it down, I knew Balzac would be another author I will own the complete works of.
I don't think I could write a complete 'review' of this book without having rad more of the Comedie Humaine, given that by the time Blazac wrote this book, it was definitely as part of the Comedie, and I believe that consequentially this book has perhaps suffered when read as a standalone tome.
With 370 pages, this book is not a very long read. I approached it as I would approach a painting - it could be either seen or read, and I chose to see it rather than read it. I am sure that a close reading could very well reward the reader of the time invested, but I found that merely 'seeing' the book was a worthwhile experience in itself. I think the slow beginning and perhaps the redundancy in presenting Paris (or the "Society) may have to do with the role this story is to play within the scheme of the Comedie. On the other hand, it may not seem nearly as slow if this is the first Balzac one reads, and for that reason I may recommend reading this book before reading any other Balzac for someone who has not read any of his work yet.
Yes the book can be considered pompous and perhaps preaching. It may also seem disorganized and confusing to follow depending on how hands-on the editor was. I found it more wordy than necessary, as many other serials are, and the small episodes within the overarching story could either enchant or annoy the reader depending on the reader's tendencies. However, I must admit that I am trying to knit pick when I am listing those perceived 'flaws' - perhaps not too different from complaining that a painting is not quite a photograph.