Said to be the greatest of French novelists, Balzac, trained as a lawyer, was a great judge of human nature. As a young man "he steeped himself in Scott's novels."
"Balzac may be justly compared with Dickens for humour, but Dickens was broader in caricature; with Thackeray for satire, but Thackeray was keener; with Meredith for analysis, but Meredith was more subtle; with Poe for imagination, but Poe was more fantastic; with Swift for cynicism, but Swift was more caustic; with Defoe for realistic narrative, but Defoe surpassed him in verisimilitude; with Scott for vivid description of nature and of men, but Scott was his master as well as his model."1Balzac was a writer who was obliged to produce for a living, and, thus, he wrote many books (he wrote 92 novels); if you have room for two on your shelf, then, in addition to an anthology of his short stories, I would recomend Balzac's Pere Goriot (1834) and his Cousin Bette (1846), "The Limburger cheese of literature."2
1 John Marshall Gest, The Lawyers in Literature (Boston: The Boston Book Co., 1913).
2 Gest, op. cit. Balzac's works are readily available on the 'NET .
3 Gest, op. cit.