Honoré de Balzac
At the Sign of the Cat and Racket
(La Maison du Chat-Qui-Pelote)
Translated by Clara Bell.
This is a short story about colliding worlds and about contrasting kinds of love. The tale opens with a description of the picturesque draper’s shop, the ‘Cat and Racket’, which M Guillaume runs on traditional lines and where frugal virtues are upheld.
An artist, Théodore de Sommervieux paints the shop, and later marries one of the draper’s daughters. But Augustine’s limited bourgeois outlook begins to bore her husband and she takes desperate measures to recapture his affection.
Her sister, Virginie, marries one of the draper’s assistants and together they manage the shop and a calm but lasting bond develops, based on their shared values.
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