Through charm, drive, and diligent effort Octave Mouret has become the director of one of the finest new department stores in Paris, Au Bonheur des Dames. Supremely aware of the power of his position, Mouret seeks to exploit the desire that his luxuriantly displayed merchandise arouses in the ladies who shop, and the aspirations of the young female assistants he employs. Charting the beginnings of the capitalist economy and bourgeois society, Zola captures in lavish detail the greedy customers and gossiping staff, and the obsession with image, fashion, and gratification that was a phenomenon of nineteenth-century French consumer society. Of all Zola’s novels, this may be the one with the most relevance for our own time.
Emile Zola (1840—1902) was born in Paris and worked as a journalist before turning to fiction. With the publication of L’Assommoir, he became the most famous writer in France. His work has influenced authors from August Strindberg to Theodore Dreiser to Tom… More about Emile Zola