I highly recommend anyone wondering where to start in Balzac read through the posts on
Wuthering Expectations before proceeding.
What is next? I am not sure I can or should set myself a goal of reading the full La Comedie Humaine, though I do see that as tremendous accomplishment. For sure I will be reading more Balzac.
The translation of this book was done by Katharine Pemberley in 1885. She was a Civil War Nurse for the North and from 1883 to 1897 translated 40 volumes of Balzac and became an expert on medical hygiene. There are a few lines in conversations that seem out of place to me in 2014 but over all it is very elegant highly readable prose. It also has the virtue of being free.