Warning: this review contains spoilers.
The setting is Les Halles, the food markets of Paris. We get page after page describing different kinds of food - their textures, colours, smells, the kind of description that Zola does very well. But, there is an awful lot of it.
Then we have the story of the discontented revolutionary Florent plotting with his fellow conspirators in a local hostelry.
Lastly, we have the stallholders of Les Halles themselves.
These disparate strands don't mesh into a satisfying whole. There is just too much food description, the various stall holders do not emerge clearly enough as distinctive characters and it is never… Read more