Young Julien Sorel, the son of a country timber merchant, carries a portrait of his hero Napoleon Bonaparte and dreams of military glory. A brilliant career in the Church leads him into Parisian high society, where, ‘mounted upon the finest horse in Alsace’, he gains high military office and wins the heart of the aristocratic Mlle Mathilde de la Mole. Julien’s cunning and ambition lead him into all sorts of scrapes, but it is the struggle between his passion for two beautiful women – the quixotic Mathilde and the loyal Mme de Rênal – which ultimately decides his destiny.
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