About the book (from Wikipedia):
La Cousine Bette is considered Balzac’s last great work. His trademark use of realist detail combines with a panorama of characters returning from earlier novels. Several critics have hailed it as a turning point in the author’s career, and others have called it a prototypical naturalist text. It has been compared to William Shakespeare’s Othello as well as Leo Tolstoy’s War and Peace. The novel explores themes of vice and virtue, as well as the influence of money on French society. Bette’s relationship with Valérie is also seen as an important exploration of homoerotic themes. A number of film versions of the story have been produced, including a 1971 BBC mini-series starring Margaret Tyzack and Helen Mirren, and a 1998 feature film with Jessica Lange in the title role.