The Lily of the Valley Summary – Balzac

The Lily Of The Valley Summary - Balzac
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“The Lily of the Valley”, is a novel by French author Honoré de Balzac. Published in 1835, it is one of the most well-known works by the author.

Summary of The Lily of the Valley Book

Felix de Vandennesse is the main character of “Lily of the Valley”. Felix, raised in an authoritarian and oppressive manner by his family, is a talented individual. One day, his father invites him to Tours. Felix, brought up in a loyal and obedient manner, accepts this invitation and goes to Tours to be with his father. At a ball, he meets a beautiful woman and instantly falls in love with her, an emotion that he cannot forget for a long time.

While wandering along the shores of the Indre River one day, Felix encounters the young and beautiful woman who captivates him. This woman’s name is Countess Henriette de Mortsauf. Felix believes that the beauty in this woman corresponds to the name of the valley; in his eyes, her beauty is as pure and graceful as the name of the valley suggests. This valley is referred to as the Valley of the Lily. Felix and Henriette meet and start talking. Henriette is married, and her husband is stern and harsh. Her marriage and life are filled with unhappiness. Felix shares his unhappy childhood and family pressure with Henriette, creating a bond by sharing their negatives.

A secret love begins between Felix and Henriette, and the two meet secretly almost every day. However, Felix needs to leave that place for his future career.

Felix starts working at the palace. Thanks to his positive character and diligence, he attracts attention and is quickly appointed to an important position (deputy chief counselor). However, Felix cannot forget his love and the woman he cares about. Meetings between Felix and Henriette continue through letters. After two years of separation, they reunite. Henriette’s husband’s severe illness makes their meetings even more frequent. However, after a while, Felix has to return to Paris.

During his time in Paris, Felix meets a beautiful woman named Lady Dudley from the upper classes. He thinks he is in love with her. However, when Henriette becomes aware of this relationship, she falls seriously ill. This illness leads to Henriette’s death. Felix realizes that his love for Lady Dudley was an illusion and returns to Henriette. He finds her on her deathbed. Before her death, Henriette leaves a letter describing the inner battles, love, desires, feelings of being a wife, and conflicts she experienced. After Henriette’s death, Felix settles in Paris and tries to console himself by engaging in politics, science, and literature.

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