Books shape our lives and transform the way we see ourselves and each other. The best books are timeless and continue to be relevant generation after generation. Vintage Classics asked the winners of The Orange Prize for Fiction which books they would pass onto the next generation and why. Rose Tremain chose Eugénie Grandet.
Monsieur Grandet is a very rich man whose chief care is his gold. He runs his household with exacting miserly attention and his wife and daughter suffer a Spartan existence. On the evening of his daughter Eugénie's twenty third birthday his foppish nephew Charles suddenly arrives from Paris. Eugénie has never known passion. Now, in an instant, she falls in love and her life is changed forever. Monsieur Grandet will not countenance his daughter's marriage to her penniless cousin and Eugénie's determination to follow her heart leads her into direct conflict with her father.
'This brilliant but devastatingly sad novel moved me so much, I began it again the moment I got to the end' Rose Tremain.
Such elements of sadness formed the physiognomy, as it were, of a dwelling-house in Saumur which stands at the end of the steep street leading to the chateau in the upper part of the town. This street—now little frequented, hot in summer, cold in winter, dark in certain sections—is remarkable for the resonance of its little pebbly pavement, always clean and dry, for the narrowness of its tortuous road-way, for the peaceful stillness of its houses, which belong to the Old town and are over-topped by the ramparts. Houses three centuries old are still solid, though built of wood, and their divers aspects add to the originality which commends this portion of Saumur to the attention of artists and antiquaries.