Writers

  • Heidi Polk

    Absolutely delightful read...

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    I first fell in love with this book when I read it for a French literature course and (though it's always preferable to read a book in the author's native language) I think this is probably one of the better translations... This story concerns Denise Baudu, a young, orphaned woman who comes to Paris with her brothers in the attempt to improve their lives (and to hasten her brother away from an illicit affair). While working in the small shop belonging to her uncle, Denise cannot help but notice the enormous department store across the way, run by Octave Mouret. The story really begins when Denise becomes a salesgirl in Mouret's store... This novel provides a wonderful look into late-nineteenth century Paris and the different inhabitants of the city (from the poor salesclerks to the middle-class merchants to the wealthy patrons). The descriptions are lush and vivid; one can almost see the riotous colors and feel the rich texture of the fabrics beneath the hungry fingers of the...I first fell in love with this book when I read it for a French literature course and (though it's always preferable to read a book in the author's native language) I think this is probably one of the better translations... This story concerns Denise Baudu, a young, orphaned woman who comes to Paris with her brothers in the attempt to improve their lives (and to hasten her brother away from an illicit affair). While working in the small shop belonging to her uncle, Denise cannot help but notice the enormous department store across the way, run by Octave Mouret. The story really begins when Denise becomes a salesgirl in Mouret's store... This novel provides a wonderful look into late-nineteenth century Paris and the different inhabitants of the city (from the poor salesclerks to the middle-class merchants to the wealthy patrons). The descriptions are lush and vivid; one can almost see the riotous colors and feel the rich texture of the fabrics beneath the hungry fingers of the women who gather throughout the novel. Admittedly, it might seem in poor taste to champion a novel so wholeheartedly dedicated to capitalism and consumption, especially in present times. But I think this book is about more than the orgiastic frenzy that power shoppers can be whipped into. It is a fascinating look at the intricate workings of society and the intimate ways in which all members are connected. It also quite brilliantly (and humorously) examines the battle between the male and female characters throughout the novel, the various ways in which they interact and which person will triumph by the novel's conclusion. Lighthearted, yet richly layered - one of Zola's best... (more)

Average Book Rating

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