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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

3.5 stars

I imagine a bewildered Émile Zola wandering into the crowds populating that new phenomenon that took Paris merchandising in the 19th century by storm - mass production and the creation of the one-stop mega-shop. He enters through the widely opened arms of polished French doors, having to bl

This novel tells of the fierce (but hopeless) struggle of small convenience stores against big brands. It was not part of the last literary season, but it is indeed a novel written at the end of the 19th century.
And that calls out, necessarily. Because the modern reader will not be disorienting by t

”..toute révolution voulait des martyrs »

Nelle storie di Zola, c’è sempre un raggio di sole che illumina gli interni.
Piccoli raggi che filtrano perpendicolari, s’insinuano nelle stanze e con quel piccolo chiarore non fanno altro che sottolineare gli angoli bui.
Luce ed ombre, dunque, come fosse un C

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

E' un libro che contiene tutto: una grande storia d'amore, un'analisi delle differenze sociali dell'epoca (nobili, borghesi, nobili decaduti, uomini e donne di bassa estrazione che cercano, non sempre con successo, di risalire la scala sociale), ma anche di una situazione economica in una fase evolu

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

Zola's depiction of La Samaritain/Le Bon Marché - Paris' first department stores - is an absolute classic and a wonderfully entertaining read. Incredibly influential on his generation (Manet, etc), it is a photographic record of life in the 19th c as the bourgeoisie started wielding their consumer p

Two stories, one the coming of the modern world, capitalism and consumerism, and the other, the poor peasant girl marries money. An alternative title could be All About Shopping.

It is interesting to see how the shop assistants in the first department store in Paris (the Ladies' Delight was modelled

Από όσο έχω ψάξει όλα αυτά τα χρόνια το “Au bonheur des dames” πρώτη φορά, τώρα, μεταφράζεται στα ελληνικά. Από λίγο που κοίταξα, δυστυχως τα γαλλικά μου είναι φριχτά, πιστεύω πως έχει γίνει μια ωραία προσπάθεια στη μετάφραση. Εγώ το είχα διαβάσει παλιότερα από αγγλική μετάφραση. Οπότε αυτή η ελληνι

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