July 13, 2011
Therese Raquin - Emile Zola
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.