July 13, 2011

Therese Raquin - Emile Zola

My second read for Paris in July was much more successful than my first (see below). I had actually purchased this copy of Therese Raquin for last years Paris in July event but did not get around to reading it - I am so glad that I managed to get to it this year.
Therese Raquin is the infamous novel of adultery by French author Emilie Zola. The book was first published in 1867 and caused quite a bit of a scandal because of the content it portrayed (having read it I can't really see why - I think it paints such a horrible picture of adultery - so much so that surely people would be turned away from it!!).
Therese Raquin is sent to live with her aunt and sickly cousin, Camille, as a young child. She grows up in the shadow of Camille's illnesses and neediness and it is arranged by Camille's mother that the two will marry - with the absence of love or devotion on behalf of Therese. The family move to Paris and take up residence in a dingy apartment where Therese starts to drown in misery and hopelessness. Enter Laurent, a work colleague and friend of Camille's who soon starts to spend a great deal of time at the Raquin's home, taking a fancy to Therese - more as a distraction and a bit of fun as opposed to a great love. Therese and Laurent start a passionate, physical affair which leads them to believe they are madly in love and in need of only each other. Decisions are made by the two that lead the story in a particular direction that seals their fate as a couple and as individuals.
I simply loved this book - the story and the characters were completing absorbing and the way the narrative flowed made the reader feel as though they were inside the heads of Therese and Laurent - not always very nice places to be but it made for fantastic reading! The book reminded me a lot of another French favourite, Madame Bovary and apparently Zola was a huge fan of Flaubert.
Now onto my next Paris in July read - I only hope my next read will be as good!


Ellie said...

I need to get back onto my Paris in July schedule but I've enjoyed the two books I've read so far.

Julie @ Read Handed said...

Sounds like an interesting plot. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

Caroline said...

I'm glad you liked it. It is a novel that left a deep impression on me. It's so chilling. Adultery is a very frequent topic in French literature (probably in other countries as well) but this is one of the most memorable.

Audra said...

I've never read any Zola but I think I'll have to start with this one -- lovely review!

Jeanie said...

I love this story -- it's so well written. Love Zola's essays on Paris, too. I remember the Masterpiece Theatre series of it long ago -- it was one of the most incredibly acted, gripping mini-series, three parts I think, I can recall.

Unknown said...

I'm so glad you enjoyed this. This must be one of my absolute favourite books of all time...just juicily dark and thrilling

Arcopol Chaudhuri said...

It's amazing how stories of adultery continue to amaze and interest us, despite the fact that most of them basically talk about adultery being a terrible thing. In the sense, the characters regret their actions, their families are affected and it leads to a whole lot of mess.

Nice review, I've added it to my wishlist :)

Tamara said...

While Im not getting much time to read this July, I'm certainly getting alot of idea's abou things I can read when I get home. This, and other Zola's, sound like something to ty. Thanks Karen, and others, for the Zola Reviews.

Karen K. said...

This was my second Zola and it was a real page-turner! It reminded me a bit of An American Tragedy by Dreiser. If you want to read more Zola I highly recommend Germinal. It's also intense but a great read.

Curvy Kitty said...

I like Zola - Nana is one of my favorites. You've made me want to start re-reading!

Karen said...

Hi Ellie - There is just so much to read across the board isn't there? I've been a bit distracted too!

Hi Julie - It was definitely interesting - and captivating in a horrible sort of way.

Hi Caroline - Chilling is definitely the right word to use to describe this one!

Hi Audra - this was my first Zola too - but I am sure it won't be my last.

Hi Jeanie - That miniseries sounds great - I will have to look out for it.

Hi Relish - I think it is going to make it to my favourite list too - I will have to read it again soon I think.

Hi Arcopol - so true - maybe they are cautionary tales??

Hi T - Haven't you learnt to read while riding your bike yet??!!

Hi Karen - thanks so much for the recommendation - I am getting the feeling that all of Zola's works much be pretty intense...

Hi Curvy Kitty - I am glad Paris In July has finally led me to Zola!

Bellezza said...

It reminded me so much of Madame Bovary that the two will be forever entwined in my mind. Interesting the novels which were about clandestine affairs resulting in the heroine's demise; I also think of Anna Karenina and The Awakening. Social warnings, in a way, aren't they? This is the first, and only Zola I've read, but I have Nana in my nook which I'd like to read someday.

p.s. Small aside on the Paris lipstick from Chanel...if you can find it, get it! It's absolutely the best I've ever worn, worth every (rather substantial) penny for it's colour, texture and wear. Wonderful stuff! xo

Becky said...

I just posted another Paris in July post today. :) This has been such great fun!

Karen said...

Hi Bellezza - thanks for the tip on the lipstick!

Hi Becky - I'm so glad you are enjoying it!!

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