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Theresa Raquin

Émile Zola

Book Overview: 

An unsatisfied wife kills her weak husband in order to carry on a sordid affair with another man. However, her selfish plans are spoiled when her husband continues to haunt her. This is often said to be Zola's first great novel.

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Book Excerpt: 
. . .Therese, motionless, peaceful like the others, observed this joy, this smiling depression of these people of the middle class, and in her heart there was savage laughter; all her being jeered, but her face maintained its frigid rigidity. Ah! how she deceived these worthy people, and how delighted she was to deceive them with such triumphant impudence. Her sweetheart, at this moment, was like a person unknown to her, a comrade of her husband, a sort of simpleton and interloper concerning whom she had no need to concern herself. This atrocious comedy, these duperies of life, this comparison between the burning kisses in the daytime, and the indifference played at night, gave new warmth to the blood of the young woman.

When by chance Madame Raquin and Camille went downstairs, Therese bounded from her chair, to silently, and with brutal energy, press her lips to those of her sweetheart, remaining thus breathless and choking until she heard the stairs creak. Then, s. . . Read More