If you want to read Balzac but are not sure where to start, I suggest you read the posts on Wuthering Expectations
Louis Lambert, a short novel, is considered in part an account of Balzac's school years and an exposition of the ideas of the once highly regarded Swedish philosopher Emanuel Swendenborg, whose ideas influenced Balzac. The novel is set in a school for boys. Louis Lambert, the son of a tanner, was a very bright boy. The account of his very early age reading of dictionaries as well as anything else he could get his hands on was very interesting. The story is told in the voice of another boy. Each was the other's only true friend. Madame de Stael paid for the schooling of Louis. The other boy, who narrates the story, is revealed to be Balzac.
Louis wrote a philosophical treatise based on Swendenborg's ideas. The professors thought it rubbish but the narrator exposits it in detail as a work of transcendent brilliance. The exposition is extended and those not into the history of ideas or philosophy may find this tedious or may see it as the product of a too self absorbed overheated bright intellectual youth. There is a plot over and above the retelling of Louis's school experiences. It is pretty much straight out of the romantic play book, troubled youth dies to early driven to madness by his genius and understood only by the woman he loves close.
I will next read what promises to be a very interesting albeit a bit odd novella set in Norway
centering on an androgynous figure.
I am hoping to read all of The Human Comedy by year end 2015. I am for now more or less reading at random. I will continue on with my other reading but will try to always be reading a Balzac work among my others.
Breakdown of The Human Comedy 91 components
Short Stories 31
20 completed, 71 to go