This fine novel reveals an unfamiliar side of Zola's art...It is a simple, poignant story of frustrated love and renunciation, and a penetrating glimpse into the terrors of childish jealousy. Henri, a young doctor, summoned one night to a little girl's sick-bed, befriends her mother Helene, a widow; the growth of love between them, and Helene's vain struggles to resist it, are powerfully and movingly drawn. The force which finally defeats passion is neither convention nor conscience, nor sympathy for Henri's frivolous but warm-hearted wife: it is the frantic, possessive love of the child Jeanne, a delicate and neurotic creature who fights to separate the lovers with all the weapons in her power, and succeeds at the cost of her life. Paris forms the background to the story, the Paris landscape seen through the window of Helene's room, drawn at all hours and in all seasons, in a series of unforgettable word-pictures. But Zola's mastery of atmosphere and description needs no comment; what is most remarkable about this novel is his precise and sympathetic comprehension of the intricacies of the human heart.