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The Ladies' Paradise by Émile Zola

The Ladies' Paradise (1883)

by Émile Zola

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: Les Rougon-Macquart (11)

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1,494387,371 (3.98)1 / 156

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English (28)  French (3)  German (2)  Spanish (2)  Italian (1)  Dutch (1)  All languages (37)
Showing 1-5 of 28 (next | show all)
This is the eleventh book of Zola's Rougon-Macquart series but is able to be read as a stand-alone. The book before it features one of the main characters but at a different phase in his life. As this was a purchase based on watching the television show The Paradise, I wasn't aware of the full series until later.

Basically, the main character in the story *is* the Ladies' Paradise, one of the first department stores -- based on the real Le Bon Marche but created as a rival store. Many of the pages of the story are dedicated to describing both the building and the eye-catching displays of household products and clothing. Its owner, Octave Mouret, is a widower and is the mastermind behind the undertaking. Denise Baudu is a newly-orphaned 20 year old who has two younger brothers to support. When the older one, Jean, gets an apprentice job in Paris, Denise moves the family and finds herself at her uncle's shop, across the street from the amazing Paradise. She quickly gets herself a job there and we follow Denise, Mouret, and many other characters through their interactions with each other and with the store.

This particular translation was clear and easy to read. There was just one sentence that stood out to me and made me question if Brian Nelson added anything else to the text. It was "[t]his was the embryo of the vast trade unions of the twentieth century." As the book was published 17 years before the twentieth century and Zola died only two years into the century, he would have had to have been Nostradamus to have written this sentence.

As for the story, I didn't fall in love with any of the characters, especially since quite a few of them were rather flawed, sometimes even loathsome. They, however, had no problems falling in love with each other, creating quite a messy (in a mostly good way) story. Regardless, I enjoyed the journey beside them and the explorations into Parisian culture and commerce. I truly felt disappointed that the heyday of the department store was before my time. Even just as a historical artifact, this novel preserved something special.

http://webereading.com/2018/01/classics-challenge-1-ladies-paradise.html ( )
  klpm | Jan 9, 2018 |
It took a little while for me to get into Zola's epic investigation into the workings of a major Parisian department store, but once I got to know the characters and saw where the plot was heading, it was hard to put this one down. ( )
  soylentgreen23 | May 30, 2017 |
I have been meaning to read this for literally years (since 2005) because it is a important source for retail history (one of my research interests at work). It was added to our bookclub library because the owner enjoyed the recent television series and so I took the opportunity to discover if I should purchase a copy myself. And yes I should!! Apart from the excellent Introduction and Select Bibliography - worth the investment in themselves - the story makes very good reading and is rich with observed details: not just the facts of business and promotion, but also a sense of the physical and psychological lives of the people working in the grand new department stores, and their customers. The love story between Mouret and Denise was slightly irritating, mostly because it stayed true to society at the time and praised the woman's steadfast purity, hard work and forbearing. Blazac does try to allow Denise some independence of thought and she has a strong character, but her talent for promotion and innate retail skills are expressed more in terms of her gentility and stoicism in the face of rude customers (The television Denise is much more of a 21st century lass!) Unlike other 19c authors, Balzac doesn't try to imply that all of society behaved with decorum: he is very matter-of-fact that very often the only way the shopgirls had to keep themselves fed and housed was to take a lover, and he doesn't try to imply this was because they were debauched in any way. The Paradise is a fascinating social history with a bit of romance thrown in and I wish I'd read it earlier ( )
  Deborahrs | Apr 15, 2017 |
Not Annotated but a Fascinating Story

My copy of the ebook was not annotated at all, so I'm knocking one star off. On a positive note, the text has fewer typos than many ebooks I have read. Of course the story is the most important part, and I found it to be very good. If, like me, you watched BBC's The Paradise and wanted it to be a little less idealized and heartwarming, then you will probably enjoy this much grittier original. However, if you are looking for a book version of the television series, this is not it. I found this book to be a fascinating study in gender, class, and commerce, and highly recommend it to anyone who loves history, Paris, or classics, as well as to anyone interested in how superstores affect the psychology of consumers. ( )
  aurelas | Dec 23, 2016 |
Pas le meilleur, un lyrisme un peu lourds.
Cependant conserve une actualite certaine, consumerisme, commerce de masse, liberalisme, ... ( )
  Gerardlionel | Apr 1, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 28 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (77 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Émile Zolaprimary authorall editionscalculated
Buss, RobinTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Jong, David deTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Nelson, BrianIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Nelson, BrianTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Vizetelly, Ernest AlfredTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Denise était venue à pied de la gare Saint-Lazare, où un train de Cherbourg l'avait débarquée avec ses deux frères, après une nuit passée sur la dure banquette d'un wagon de troisième classe.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0192836021, Paperback)

The Ladies Paradise (Au Bonheur des Dames) recounts the rise of the modern department store in late nineteenth-century Paris. The store is a symbol of capitalism, of the modern city, and of the bourgeois family: it is emblematic of changes in consumer culture and the changes in sexual attitudes and class relations taking place at the end of the century. This new translation of the eleventh novel in the Rougon-Macquart cycle captures the spirit of one of Zola's greatest works.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:18:34 -0400)

(see all 5 descriptions)

ResumenExpress.com presenta y analiza en esta guia de lectura El paraiso de las damas, un gran clasico del celebre escritor frances Emile Zola que pertenece a su serie Los Rougon-Macquart. Ambientada en el siglo XIX, la obra relata el amor entre una joven huerfana, Denise Baudu, y el propietario de unos grandes almacenes, Octave Mouret. Una fascinante novela que nos traslada a una epoca en la que el desarrollo economico va acompanado de una paulatina degradacion moral. ?Ya no tienes que leer y resumir todo el libro, nosotros lo hemos hecho por ti! Esta guia incluye: - Un resumen completo del libro - Un estudio de los personajes - Las claves de lectura - Pistas para la reflexion ?Por que elegir ResumenExpress.com? Para aprender de forma rapida. Porque nuestras publicaciones estan escritas con un estilo claro y conciso que te ayudara a ganar tiempo y a entender las obras sin esfuerzo. Disponibles en formato impreso y digital, te acompanaran en tu aventura literaria.… (more)

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