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The Ladies' Paradise

Émile Zola

Book Overview: 

It's a glitzy, fast paced Parisian drama depicting life at the world's first department store, revealing its many innovative marketing concepts, fashion, glamour, lust, greed, courage, deception, human foibles, and the vision and financial risk-taking that led to a world transformation in shopping -- one that set all the little shop keepers on their heads. All this is contrasted by our heroine Denise, a young sales woman who struggles through financial hardship, back-stabbing friendships, and incredible temptations with a quiet courage that helps her rise to the top. As she passes through fire and emerges from it unscathed, we get Zola's masterful depiction of social upheaval and feminine resistance to evil.

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Book Excerpt: 
. . .At this, Mouret interfered a second time. "What! are you Baudu's niece?" said he, "is it Baudu who sent you here?"

"Oh! no, sir!" answered Denise; and she could not help laughing as she spoke for the idea appeared to her so singular. That laugh was like a transfiguration; she became quite rosy, and the smile playing round her rather large mouth lighted up her whole face. Her grey eyes sparkled with a soft flame, her cheeks filled with delicious dimples, and even her light hair seemed to partake of the frank and courageous gaiety that pervaded her whole being.

"Why, she's really pretty," whispered Mouret to Bourdoncle.

The latter with a gesture of boredom refused to admit it. Clara on her side bit her lips, and Marguerite turned away; Madame Aurélie alone seemed won over, and encouraged Mouret with a nod when he resumed: "Your uncle was wrong not to bring you here; his recommendation sufficed. It is said he has a grudge against us. We are . . . Read More

Community Reviews

Le phalanstère du négoce

Le grand magasin Au Bon Marché en 1887

Denise Baudu est arrivée de Valognes avec ses frères pour trouver une place auprès de son oncle après la mort successive de leur mère et de leur père. La jeune femme découvre rapidement que le petit commerce végète tandis que les gran

Κάθε επαφή με το έργο του Ζολά μού αφήνει την αίσθηση της απόδρασης σε ένα λογοτεχνικό… πάρκο της Ιουράσιας περιόδου. Μπορεί η εποχή του συγγραφέα, με τα προβλήματα και τις ιδιαιτερότητές της να έχει περάσει ανεπιστρεπτί, πλην όμως το αφηγηματικό ύφος του συγγραφέα κατορθώνει με ευκολία να… διακτινί

Life in an 1860s Paris megastore. As capitalism staggers around on its bunioned feet, waiting for the next self-perpetuating excuse for sickening human greed and useless backbreaking timewasting bullshit in pursuit of Capital to relieve its burden, it’s time to question what we want from an economic

Holy Mother of God...

I do not know where to begin with this.

You see this title, and you look up the book: "Oh, a novel about women and shopping, this is going to be a bore..." Even I had my doubts, and I am an avid reader of Zola, he has yet to disappoint me. And yet, I believe that this may be the

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