The Muse of the Department is set in the Loire Valley, France's premier wine producing area, in the town of Sancerre. A local beauty has just married a man thirty years her senior who most think will die soon, leaving her wealthy. The husband is normally very tight with money, mainly being interested in buying more land and expanding his income. His wife begins to acquire a few Platonic male friends and compressing a good bit, she decides to set up an intellectual salon on the model of the famous gatherings of Madame Staël.
There is a lot of intrigue, money matters, of course, but by far the most interesting aspect of The Muse of the Department lies in the intellectuals, writers and artists attracted to the salon. I did not develop much interest in the characters.
This is a work for those reading through the full Comedie Humaine.
I am now reading An Old Maid.