The novel begins with Marcel's childhood recollections, which come to the writer stilted and distant. The form of remembrance which he seeks, finally begins to blossom with the wanted warmth and intimacy of authenticity, when he tastes a madeleine cake dipped in linden tea such as he was given as a child. He returns via this precious flavour, and the reader embarks on a sumptuous journey with Marcel into the heart and mind of a precocious aesthete of turn of the century France.
Superficially, the narration follows the lives of three families, Marcel's own, the aristocratic de Guermantes and the family of the Jewish bohemian dilettante Swann. Among the characters are faithless coquette Odette, whom Swann marries, Baron de Charlus (with a fetish for Balzac and Latin quotes), Duchess de Guermantes, Mme de Villeparisis, Robert Saint-Loup and Marcel's great love Albertine.
The book follows Marcel through his experiences and his singular personality - a journey rife with a colorful agglomeration of dreams which are constantly thwarted by the inevitable disillusion of encounter with real life.
The narrator's vision, both neurotic and exceedingly perspicacious, make this journey a compelling and unique one, bristling with humor, irony, pathos, charm, and infinite beauty. Remembrance remains a singular work in reference to this would-be hackneyed theme. This singularity resides in the fact that the cynicism garnered via age which casts its ominous shadow over most beings in the guise of severe negativity or inertia, never overtakes Marcel; he never stops searching and longing, is curiosity and love remarkably boundless .