This is the first Emile Zola book that I've read and I loved it.
I read the Robin Buss translation on Penguin Classics.
It was first published in 1867 and caused a sensation. I can see why.
It's a story about a young woman who grows up with a sickly boy and marries him, then goes on to have a passionate affair with his friend who, in colusion with the woman, kills her husband. The book then goes on to examine the psychological effects of the murder on both the woman and her lover, whom she subsequently marries. Even now, what's described is quite shocking and very realistic.
It reminded me of McBeth and Banquo's ghost a little but became so very much more than that. The prose is wonderful to read and Buss's translation (as far as I can tell!) flows very nicely.
As far as I understand it, this is one of the novels that is not included in the Rougon-Macquart series.
By Lei-Lei Jayenne
Has anybody actually read all twenty books in this cycle? I'm making an attempt at the moment, though it's hard to find some of the more obscure titles. Having read Nana, Germinal and L'Assomoir so far, I am so impressed with Zola's gritty writing style. I wish i'd started reading him years ago.
I am about to begin Germinal. I have seen it as a film years ago I think and I *think* it was one of the books we read in French for French A-level, though I remember little or nothing of it. Maybe it will all coming flooding back to me when I begin? It will be strange seeing what I remember of the French. If anything.
I stumbled across this book in the library a few weeks ago, and have been hooked ever since! Described as 'encapsulation in luxurious detail the phenomenon of consumer society', this is a brilliant book, with stunning imagery and descriptions. It is about Denise, a young woman who moves to Paris with her two younger brothers, orphaned and seeking work, from the provinces, and how her fate becomes embroiled with that of the 'Bonheur des Dames', a clothing shop and haberdashery. May not sound thrilling, but you can have my word that I've so far found this book to be really exciting, insightful and thoroughly interesting, I'd recommend it to anyone, particularly of course anyone interested in that era, or 'consumerism'.
I'd read quite a bit about Emile Zola before, but mostly only biographical, about his friendship with Cezanne, and this is the first book of his I've read (there are loads more which I intend to read also, having read this one). I'm finding that he completely lives us to his reputation as the 'foremost representative of the Naturalist school'.