In the Shadow of Young Girls in Flower continues the story of the adolescent Narrator's infatuation with Gilberte. Through the Swanns, he meets the writer Bergotte. He finally concludes that his love for Gilberte is not reciprocated. He leaves for vacation with his grandmother to the seaside resort of Balbec where they will spend weeks at the Grand Hôtel.
There he meets other members of the Guermantes family, the marquis de Saint-Loup and the baron de Charlus, one of the novels most notorious characters. And he meets the band of girls in bloom, one of whom, Albertine, will become his great love and eventually his mistress. He also meets the painter Elstir whose works and esthetic ideas will greatly influence how he sees the world.
Madame swann at home
The first, nearly 300 pages, of In the Shadow of Young Girls in Flower is called Madame Swann at Home and is actually the final section of Swann’s Way, as originally conceived by Proust. Novels of that era were usually fairly short in length and Proust had written one that was easily five or six times the normal number of pages.
place names: the place
On arriving in Balbec, Marcel is bitterly disappointed because what he sees does not match what he had so often imagined. He also feels lonely and alienated at the Grand-Hôtel and finds it difficult to accustom himself to sleeping in a new room. He is comforted by his grandmother who initiates the signal of three taps to communicate with her in the adjoining room. His outlook improves when the grandmother meets an old friend, Mme de Villeparisis, also a guest at the hotel. He enjoys rides in her carriage during one of which he sees the three trees at Hudimesnil; the trees seem to have a mysterious but vital message to convey to him.
robert de saint-loup
In the course of their carriage rides together Mme de Villeparisis speaks highly of her nephew, Robert de Saint-Loup, a young military officer stationed at Doncières, not far from Balbec. The marquise praises his intelligence and above all his kindheartedness, so that Marcel already imagined that he would take a liking to me, that I should be his best friend.
a band of nymphs
Marcel and his grandmother are somewhat at odds because she is eager for him to meet the painter Elstir while he can only think of pursuing the little band of girls. As it turns out, the girls and Elstir are linked in a way that Marcel cannot imagine.