Tuesday 28 November 2017

Thérèse Raquin by Emile Zola

What on earth is Thérèse Raquin about? Well it's a tale of adultery and murder, set in a haberdashery shop in the passage du Pont-Neuf in Paris. Sound fascinating? Set in the 1800s, the story of how a woman and her lover conspire to murder her husband, but are haunted forever, followed by the beady eyes of his mother, and the rest of "civil" society, it is riveting.

I've been trying to throw in the odd classic to liven up my reading. This fits that definition perfectly. It is odd, in the quaint way of a haberdashery shop, in a dark and damp underground walkway. I liked it, in the way a cat likes certain people - from a distance, and sometimes showing that affection with a claw or two.

"The arcade of the Pont Neuf is not a place for a stroll. You take it to make a short cut, to gain a few minutes. It is traversed by busy people whose sole aim is to go quick and straight before them… The arcade now assumes the aspect of a regular cut-throat alley. Great shadows stretch along the tiles, damp puffs of air enter from the street. Anyone might take the place for a subterranean gallery indistinctly lit-up by three funeral lamps."

It didn't try and outdo itself in either length or descriptive passages. There were big bold brazen characters, some of whom annoyed me, and few who didn't. The author conveyed the sense of panic and guilt, consuming and eating from the inside in a way that made me want to turn the pages faster. Only I couldn't, because Kate Winslet was narrating for me. Her reading was so beautiful, sometimes I replayed parts - she infused the dark mystery with a sense of sinister suspicion, which I loved.

It was miserable, morbid and like visiting a haunted house. Read it - better still, listen to it - on a rainy afternoon, when you're feeling life isn't great. It'll suit your mood.

ISBN:  9780140449440
4 stars

You may also enjoy The Miniaturist by Jessie Burton (similar in tone) or if you're into this type of classic, what about War and Peace by Tolstoy?

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