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The Paradise is an absorbing novel about the birth of marketing, department stores, and conspicuous consumption. Though it is the product of 19th-century France, it remains remarkably contemporary in its portrayal of rampaging capitalism's pros and cons as well as in its rendering of frenzied shoppers. And there is even a little love story to carry you along, too. Splendid, indeed!
A companion edition to the TV series from Masterpiece on PBS 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.
About the Author
Emile Zola (1840-1902) was the leading figure in the French school of naturalistic fiction. His principal work, Les Rougon-Macquart, is a panorama of mid-19th century French life, in a cycle of twenty novels which Zola wrote over a period of twenty-two years.