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Eugénie Grandet is an 1833 novel by Honoré de Balzac about miserliness, and how it is bequeathed from the father to the daughter, Eugénie, through her unsatisfying love attachment with her cousin. As is usual with Balzac, all the characters in thenovel are fully realized. Balzac conceived his ambitious project, The Human Comedy, while writing Eugénie Grandet and incorporated it into the Comédie by revising the names of some of the characters in the second edition, which he also dedicated to Maria Du Fresnay, his then-lover and mother of his daughter Marie-Caroline Du Fresnay, and, as was proved later on, the "real" Eugénie Grandet.
Eugénie Grandet is set in the town of Saumur. Eugénie's father Felix is a former cooper who has become wealthy through both business ventures and inheritance (inheriting the estates of his mother-in-law, grandfather-in-law and grandmother all in one year). However, he is very miserly, and he, his wife, daughter and their servant Nanon live in a run-down old house which he is too miserly to repair. His banker des Grassins wishes Eugénie to marry his son Adolphe, and his lawyer Cruchot wishes Eugénie to marry his nephew President Cruchot des Bonfons, both parties eyeing the inheritance from Felix. The two families constantly visit the Grandets to get Felix's favour, and Felix in turn plays them off against each other for his own advantage.
On Eugénie's birthday, in 1819, Felix's nephew Charles Grandet arrives from Paris unexpectedly at their home having been sent there by his father Guillaume. Charles does not realise that his father has gone bankrupt and is planning to take his own life. Guillaume reveals this to his brother Felix in a confidential letter which Charles has carried.
Charles is a spoilt and indolent young man, who is having an affair with an older woman. His father's ruin and suicide are soon published in the newspaper, and his uncle Felix reveals his problems to him. Felix considers Charles to be a burden, and plans to send him off overseas to make his own fortune. However, Eugénie and Charles fall in love with each other, and hope to eventually marry. She gives him some of her own money to help with his trading ventures.