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The Ladies' Paradise: 06/24/10
When I think of Émile Zola, I think of long drives through Arizona, Nevada and New Mexico. He was one of my go-to authors for the long summer camping trips. It's been two decades since my last family trip but I've been trying to get back into the groove with Zola. I had some success with The Earth. I wish I could say the same for The Ladies' Paradise.
The Ladies Paradise takes place in Paris at the time when city is modernizing and gearing up for the 20th century. A young woman and her brothers come to live with an uncle who runs a small dress store. He's scared by modernization or maybe he can't afford to upgrade. Whatever the reason, it's impetus for his niece to seek employment at the Ladies' Paradise, a brand new department store.
As many of the other reviewers note, the department store is the main character of the novel. It's like a Macy's or similar but it's affect on the smaller stores is more like a Wallmart. In this regard the book reminds me of The Jungle and Sister Carrie (where Chicago is presented as a character).
I really wanted to connect with the novel but I didn't. Maybe I need those long drives through picturesque landscapes to get into a Zola mood. Maybe I just need less distractions. Here I felt like I couldn't find the right pace to read the book. I got through about two-thirds of it with out feeling the spark I needed to keep going.
Comment #1: Friday, June, 25, 2010 at 11:40:00
Sorry it was bland for you... I looked it up and thought it sounded delightful. Maybe it is an acquired taste.
Comment #2: Tuesday, June 29, 2010 at 11:28:14
Frankly I was suprised that I didn't love the book. I have loved every other Zola book I've read. I think I was just too preoccupied with other things to devote the time needed to read it properly.