A Start in Life (translated by Katherine Wormeley) is set in a very interesting venue, a stage coach that goes back and forth from Paris to Val-d Olse carrying passengers and cargo. Parts of it are decent but overall a work for those reading through The Human Comedy. There are a couple of posts online giving the plot in a lot of detail so I will just talk briefly on this novella.
Young Oscar, maybe twenty, is on the stage with three other passengers. In a time without cell phones or tablets, people actually converse with each other. A very wealthy landowner, a senator, is traveling incognito, he is going to visit his estate in the area as he has been told the estate manager is robbing him. Oscar, having no idea who he is, begins to tell him all sorts of stuff, part true, part fanciful that will end up badly hurting his family. The best part of the work is set in the coach. Other than that it is the standard Balzac money and marriage seeking work. We end up following the career of Oscar. There is a funny scene in a law office. Balzac's lesser works seem very much written according to formula.
I will next read a short story involving Naplolean.