1001 Books Round-Up April 2022
This months winners and losers
Daniel Deronda by George Eliot Tackle the TBR. Synopsis from Goodreads: A beautiful young woman stands poised over the gambling tables in an expensive hotel. She is aware of, and resents, the gaze of an unusual young man, a stranger, who seems to judge her, and find her wanting. The encounter will change her life.
The strange young man is Daniel Deronda, brought up with his own origins shrouded in mystery, searching for a compelling outlet for his singular talents and remarkable capacity for empathy. Deronda’s destiny will change the lives of many. I suppose so..
My Thoughts: I actually enjoyed this more than I expected to although if I were to give the book a title it would be Dan & Gwen a History.
While the title may be Daniel Deronda I would argue that most of the story focusses on Gwendolyn and the decisions she makes that keep pulling her into the orbit of Daniel.
I can’t really say much about the book without giving away spoilers all I can say was that it was an interesting read about family, inheritance, morality & religion.
3 Stars – A welcome escape from the pace of modern life.
The Drunkard by Emile Zola. BOTM #1. Synopsis from Goodreads: The seventh novel in the Rougon-Macquart cycle, L’Assommoir (1877) is the story of a woman’s struggle for happiness in working-class Paris. At the center of the story stands Gervaise, who starts her own laundry and for a time makes a success of it. But her husband soon squanders her earnings in the Assommoir, a local drinking spot, and gradually the pair sink into poverty and squalor. Yes that is exactly what happens with the odd rumpy pumpy thrown in for good measure.
My Thoughts: I really appreciated this book I enjoyed a new perspective on Paris and the life for the poor and working class living in Paris. For me I think of Zola as the French Dickens both tackle the problems facing those who are overlooked by society in general, both write about hardships and about family and I enjoy reading both of them.
4 Stars – Well worth reading
Nana by Emile Zole. BOTM #2. Synopsis from Goodreads: Nana opens in 1867, the year of the World Fair, when Paris, thronged by a cosmopolitan elite, was the perfect target for Zola’s scathing denunciation of hypocrisy and fin-de-siecle moral corruption. In this new translation, the fate of Nana—the Helen of Troy of the second Empire, and daughter of the laundress in L’Assommoir—is now rendered in racy, stylish English. Racy? Not in this day and age.
My Thoughts: Nana follows immediately on from the Drunkard in fact Nana is the daughter of the central characters in The Drunkard so it was interesting to see her from her first appearance as a child all the way up to her demise in this instalment.
In this book we watch as Nana raises herself from common prostitute to high class escort (with sex thrown in) Due to her looks Nana is able to manipulate several men who all believe they are in love with her and will do anything to keep her. Nana however doesn’t want to be tied down she is too much of a free spirit she wants to have her fun and her freedom and unlike most women of the time she doesn’t view marriage as an attractive career path.
4 Stars – Apparently other reviewers have admired the symbolism of the fall of the second Empire and Nana’s embodiment of this, me I just read this as a book about a good time girl. My Bad.
Have you read any of these? Let us know your thoughts
It’s so refreshing to see Zola reviewed in your article. He’s my favorite 19th century French novelist. Do yourself a favor and continue reading the novels featuring this amazing family. Be sure to check out the stories of Gervaise’s other children: Claude (The Masterpiece), Jacques (The Beast Within) and the most famous one Etienne (Germinal). Also fantastic are the novels of her sister Lisa (The Belly of Paris) and her niece Pauline (The Bright Side of Life, a personal favorite of mine). And, finally, you won’t want to miss the story of her brother Jean (The Downfall, one that many consider the best in the series). And I whose the term “series” very loosely. All novels are independent stories and need not be read in a particular order. However, there are plenty opinions on THAT subject.
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I do intend to keep reading the books in the cycle