French fancies

1 12 2011

Thérèse Raquin by Emile Zola



The first major work of the father of French Naturalism, “Thérèse Raquin” is the shocking initial success of Zola’s impressive writing career. Published in 1867, the plot revolves around a young woman, Thérèse, who is unhappily married to her cousin Camille, largely due to her domineering, if well-intentioned, aunt, Madame Raquin. After moving the little family to Paris, the selfish Camille meets up with an old friend, Laurent, who quickly becomes Thérèse’s lover. The terrible lengths the two of them go to be together eventually become their undoing, proving them to be the ‘human beasts’ that Zola scientifically observed for temperament in his grisly experimental novel. A sinister story of adultery and murder in lower class Parisian society, “Thérèse Raquin” is a dreadfully realistic novel that remains one of Zola’s most masterful works.

Just outstanding and can’t believe I’ve never read before. Excellent portrayal of the dark underside of Paris and of human nature. Grim and thoroughly gripping right to the very end.

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