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The Earth: 03/19/07
I started reading Émile Zola's naturalist novels back in 7th grade. Germinal was on the list of books we were to read for independent study (as part of the English seminar class). I devoured the book in one night (one of those rare times where I will stay up to read a book to completion). That year I read every single book my local library had of Zola's.
It's now been about 20 years but I still remember those books with fondness. When a BookCrossing friend of mine offered up The Earth as a book ring, I jumped at the chance to read another novel by Zola. Had grown up commitments (like work, chores and my children) gotten in the way, I could have easily finished this book in one day. Not because it's short (it's 500 pages) but because Zola had such a way with words.
As the title implies, Earth is a story of the land more so that it is about any one person. While families come and go and land is passed from generation to generation (divided up, bought, sold and built over), the earth continues on its own schedule. There are years of feast and years of famine and these events don't happen at the convenience of the people living off the land.