This is not at all what I expected. I kind of feared this would a stodgy morality story and in a way it was a morality play but it was far from stodgy. I can't count the number of times it made me genuinely laugh because of the brilliant satire.Our main protagonist Julien seems to be a massive collection of contradictions. He adores Napoleon but hides that to become a member of the clergy. He disparages the rich bourgeois yet aspires to become one. He calls himself a fool and immature for getting angry at others yet he doesn't seem to have problem duelling or using his pistols on others. He's a bit of a cad but you still find yourself cheering him on.The history lessons written here were invaluable but subtle. I learned a lot more about that time period than I would have from a book solely written on the subject but without realizing it. I know that wasn't the intention of the book but it was a great by product.I was fortunate enough to have read a good translation of this which I really think makes a huge difference.