The Ladies' Paradise by Émile Zola
(BBC tie-in) (Oxford World's Classics)

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The Ladies' Paradise is a compelling story of ambition and love set against the backdrop of the spectacular rise of the department store in 1860s Paris. Octave Mouret is a business genius who transforms a modest draper's shop into a hugely successful retail enterprise, masterfully exploiting the desires of his female customers and ruining small competitors along the way. Through the eyes of trainee salesgirl Denise we see the inner workings of the store and the relations
and intrigues among the staff, human dramas played out alongside the relentless pursuit of commercial supremacy.

Now adapted for BBC Television and given a British setting in The Paradise, Zola's novel is a masterly portrayal of life in the bustling, gossipy world of the best department store in town.
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About Émile Zola

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Zola was the spokesperson for the naturalist novel in France and the leader of a school that championed the infusion of literature with new scientific theories of human development drawn from Charles Darwin (see Vol. 5) and various social philosophers. The theoretical claims for such an approach, which are considered simplistic today, were outlined by Zola in his Le Roman Experimental (The Experimental Novel, 1880). He was the author of the series of 20 novels called The Rougon-Macquart, in which he attempted to trace scientifically the effects of heredity through five generations of the Rougon and Macquart families. Three of the outstanding volumes are L'Assommoir (1877), a study of alcoholism and the working class; Nana (1880), a story of a prostitute who is a femme fatale; and Germinal (1885), a study of a strike at a coal mine. All gave scope to Zola's gift for portraying crowds in turmoil. Today Zola's novels have been appreciated by critics for their epic scope and their visionary and mythical qualities. He continues to be immensely popular with French readers. His newspaper article "J'Accuse," written in defense of Alfred Dreyfus, launched Zola into the public limelight and made him the political conscience of his country.
Published October 4, 2012 by OUP Oxford. 481 pages
Genres: Literature & Fiction, Education & Reference. Fiction

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Los Angeles Times

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It's impossible to say, of course, but my guess is that Emile Zola would be amazed, appalled and pleased, in equal parts, to learn that an English-language edition of "The Ladies' Paradise" has been available in recent years only through the graces of a management consulting firm.

Feb 28 1992 | Read Full Review of The Ladies' Paradise (BBC tie...

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