is like the pretentious, over-educated older sister of Budding Grove who constantly outdoes her little sister at everything. She's longer, she's more boring, she's more interesting, she's wittier and funnier, and she just loves to show off how much she knows.
We really get to know Saint Loup in this volume, as well as the Guermantes family in general - who are some pretty superficial crazies anyway. M., being a creep, stalks Mme. de Guermantes everyday on her morning walks, and befriends her nephew, Saint-Loup and is like "oh can I have that picture of your aunt? ...why? uh......." - whatever, we've all been there right? ..right? ....anyone? anyone? Bueller?
We also get historical in this one with the Dreyfus affair as the background. There are a few Jewish characters, Bloch who is totally oblivious about being unwanted and annoying, and Charles Swann who of course we love and sympathize with since he married a whore. The Dreyfus affair really wears Swann out, which is sad, but as a reader you're really distracted by the total creepiness of Marcel so you get over it pretty quickly.
This chapter also emerges us in, what every book ought to have, TONS OF SOCIETY BITCHES. And they're all really obsessed with seeming witty (which I've learned from Balzac is REALLY important to French people). We get a LOT of Mme. de Guermantes superrr bitchy opinions about her friends and family. Like Princess de Parma and etc. We also hear lots of gossip about people we've met, like Charlus and his dead wife and M. de Norpois and his affair with Mme. de Villeparisis. SCANDALOUS. My only complaint about this volume is I felt like it talked about the lineage of the Guermantes for way too long, and like, the lineages of everyone in all of France. It got rather dry for a good 30-100 pages, but it picked up later.
This book kind of kills Elstir in M.'s eyes a little since the Guermantes don't like his paintings. Whatever...bitches.
There's a really funny scene (and witty, go figure) where B. de Charlus has given M. a book of Bergotte's (which happens pretty much right after he's all like "Bergotte sucks"), and then Charlus calls M. to his house and accuses him of slandering him because M. told people he would help him into society (which he did), and he says "Similarly, you did not even recognize on the binding of Bergotte's book the lintel of myosotis over the door of Balbec church. Could there have been a clearer way of saying to you: 'Forget me not!'?" I laughed out loud in an untrammeled geeky way, since it is totally absurd to read that much into such a thing.
The book ends on a CLIFFHANGER. Guys, Proust is basically the Agatha Christie of 4000 page novel-y things that sorta don't have a plot and sorta don't have action verbs and stuff. It ends and its like, WILL M. BE INVITED TO THIS PARTY? You would die without knowing if you didn't ever read volume four. How could you live with that suspense? You couldn't. Onto V.4: Sodom + Gomorrah!