The book ends with everything being wrapped up and Frederic missing out on his dreams of finding true love but he ends with his childhood friend Deslauriers who has also missed out on what he wanted from life – power – and all of the loose ends are tied up.
At the risk of stealing some thunder from a full review there is a great quote that sort of sums up what the book has been about:
“They’d both been failures, the one who’d dreamed of Love and the one who’d dreamed of power. How had it come about?
‘Perhaps it was lack of perseverance?’ said Frederic.
‘For you maybe. For me, it was the other way round, I was too rigid, I didn’t take into account a hundred and one smaller things that are more crucial than all the rest. I was too logical and you were too sentimental.’”
Bullet points between pages 378 – 464
* Frederic is deeply involved with his mistress Rosanette and is taken aback when she announces that she is pregnant because he has since turned his attentions on wooing the banker’s wife Madame Dambreuse
* The political situation continues to change and Frederic again is given a brief chance of getting involved with politics but misses it because he does not move quickly enough and is criticised by friends who would have helped him
* Rosanette gets into financial difficulty and is on the brink of having her possessions sold but a friend steps into loan the money to pay her debts but the Arnoux family is not so lucky and they flee to Brittany to avoid creditors
* One of the creditors is Rosanette who breaks up any final chance that Frederic might have had of finding happiness with Madame Arnoux and then peruses her money which leads to the family fleeing
* Meanwhile Madame Dambreuse tumbles on Frederic’s love for Madame Arnoux and uses old debts to force a sale of her rival’s belongings and at the public auction Frederic decides to spurn the marriage that is on offer from her after her husband dies and settle for independence
* He has also cut ties with Rosanette after their son died and so heads back to the country to Louise but as he arrives in Nogent he watches her wedding to his old friend Deslauriers and heads back to Paris with nowhere to turn
* Then time passes and Frederic is described as leading a middle class life with a few lovers and Madame Arnoux appears for one final time but with white hair and the sings of age the talk of their love is in the past
* The final scene reunites the two old school friends and reveals that Arnoux has died and Rosanette has become fat and adopted a boy and some of the other characters have gone onto better things leaving the two friends to ponder where it was that they went wrong
A full review will follow in the next couple of days…