Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress is notable for its size. Publishers Weekly stated that Balzac was a "slim first novel", and Brooke Allen at the New York Times Book Review called the narrative "streamlined".
Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress is written in a characteristic style. The novel focuses and "accents on a soft center rather than... hard edges", according to Josh Greenfield of Time Europe. A vast majority of the characters in the narrative have "epithets rather than names", adding to the relaxed writing style of the novel.