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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Gritty, stark and grim
This is a grim little tale of physical lust, crime and guilt set in the seedy world of 19th century Paris. The anti-hero falls in lust with Therese, the wife of his pathetic friend Laurent, and together they conspire to murder him so they can marry (as much for her money as their mutual passion). But the crime comes back to haunt them, quite literally with joint...
Published on 21 Sept. 2006 by Roman Clodia

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Dark, claustrophobic but very readable
There is something of the German Novelle about this work - a form of novel that is a thought experiment - what would happen if I put these people in this situation? Typically, such an approach is less concerned with what happens as to how and why things happen and the observation of the impact of events on emotions and behaviour. Often, for example in Goethe's works of...
Published on 6 Mar. 2012 by Brownbear101


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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Gritty, stark and grim, 21 Sept. 2006
By 
Roman Clodia (London) - See all my reviews
(TOP 100 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Thérèse Raquin (Penguin Classics) (Paperback)
This is a grim little tale of physical lust, crime and guilt set in the seedy world of 19th century Paris. The anti-hero falls in lust with Therese, the wife of his pathetic friend Laurent, and together they conspire to murder him so they can marry (as much for her money as their mutual passion). But the crime comes back to haunt them, quite literally with joint hallucinations of the murdered, drowned man.

Zola takes the new science (at that point) of psychology and applies it here, showing man to be no more than an animal driven by physiological appetites. It's not an edifying view of humanity, and in fact there is little humanity in the book at all, but it's somehow not a depressing read for all that. perhaps Zola's own ghoulish energy lifts it, or the sublime writing? If your French is good enough, then read it in the original, but if not this is an excellent translation.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A darkness that throws so much light, 4 Dec. 2008
By 
M. Harrison "Hamish" (London, UK) - See all my reviews
(TOP 1000 REVIEWER)    (REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Thérèse Raquin (Penguin Classics) (Paperback)
If Emile Zola was writing today he might have been a screen writer. The images, atmosphere, and characterisation in this novel play a desperate film noir in your head that will replay there perhaps for ever.

The modernity of this book is startling. It is almost impossible to believe it was first published in 1867. It is a gripping, seething tale of neglect, bitterness, and lust that turns to horror and despair as its key protagonists crave redemption and release.

Therese is the adopted daughter of a simple haberdasher and her feeble son. She has learnt young to expect nothing from life, and is not disappointed. She marries the son only because it pleases the mother, and, after all, what else is there? It is a life of such alienation and boredom that only a writer as great as Zola could portray it and yet hold the reader in anticipation of what is to follow. And what follows is altogether more eventful: passion described with a vividness that is shockingly erotic; violence that makes the reader wince; fear that haunts you between each reading.

By the time the tale twists into its downward spiral you may fear that Zola does not know where to take it next. It circles for a while in repetitious misery. But the author is only preparing himself for a final assault that leaves you closing the book as if it were a prematurely opened grave: with a mix of terror and fascination.

But most remarkably of all, Zola has somehow, in this story of desperately lost eighteenth century Parisian souls, found qualities and frailties that are so universal and so poignant that you care even as these creatures tear themselves and each other to pieces. He understands as well, maybe better, than any writer how human beings will build a whole world on even the flimsiest foundation and fill it with all their aspirations - and disenchantments. And so the needy become the passionate; the petty the desperate; the melancholy the murderer. And the murderer the sad and lonely child.

For all that Zola has laid the dysfunction of each of his characters so bare you can hardly bear to look, he somehow allows you still to see their souls. Incredibly the ending fills you with sorrow almost as much as with horror.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The dark side of human nature., 12 April 2011
This review is from: Thérèse Raquin (Penguin Classics) (Paperback)
This book has been etched on my soul.
It is dark and disturbing, but so compelling.
A marvellous study in the dark side of human nature.
I am usually disappointed with endings of books, but not this one.
Zola is a great writer.
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27 of 30 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A cautionary tale, 28 Oct. 2001
By A Customer
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I read this book about a month ago, and I still think about it a lot - despite having since read other books. That alone tells me what a great read it was. Having read other customer reviews prior to buying the book, I expected a ghastly tale of murder, incest and any other human act that, in 1867-1868 might have led to an author being hung! However, what I found in this book was a cautionary tale of how love does not conquer all, and Zola's brilliant interpretation of the distinction between lust and love. Zola paints a highly imaginable picture of the characters' lives, and yes, he does dissect these characters according to then current beliefs about human nature. But what we must remember is that these are his interpretations of what psychological processes could abound after an act of murder carried out in the throes of love, or lust, whichever the reader believes it to be. In modern times we have psychologists to theorise, experiment with and suggest hypotheses pertaining to human behaviour - a discipline that has arisen only over the last century. Books such as this one by Zola enable a valuable insight into what thoughts of human behaviour existed during the 19th century, thoughts that were possibly shared by many, but only one dared voice. Read it for what it is, a tragic love story, and try not to focus on Zola's psychological dissection, and you will enjoy a story rarely told so greatly.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Highly Enjoyable, 24 Sept. 2006
This review is from: Thérèse Raquin (Penguin Classics) (Paperback)
At first glance, the plot seems to be fairly routine, and perhaps a little boring. I thought this to be in the same vein as Chopin's "Awakening" or perhaps even "Moll Flanders". The title and blurb for this book are misleading, seeming to sell this novel as a romance, especially with the description of Laurent as 'earthy' and the 'animal passion' he shares with Therese, and did not immediately appeal to me. This is near-criminal, as it fails to stress the books chilling and pscyhological aspects that make it such an interesting read.

For this is far more than a simple passion/crime novel, but rather an intense, claustrophobic and highly enjoyable insight into the fracturing of two guilt-ridden, egotistical and self-pitying characters, so fully realised and superbly depicted, and shades of both Balzac and Dostoyevsky abound.

This novel might be described as a horror, a moral fable or a tragic romance. Above all of this though, it is a pscyhological thriller, highly symbolic, yet exciting and morbidly appealing in its entirety.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Dark, claustrophobic but very readable, 6 Mar. 2012
This review is from: Thérèse Raquin (Penguin Classics) (Paperback)
There is something of the German Novelle about this work - a form of novel that is a thought experiment - what would happen if I put these people in this situation? Typically, such an approach is less concerned with what happens as to how and why things happen and the observation of the impact of events on emotions and behaviour. Often, for example in Goethe's works of this type, the protagonists don't even have names and are given backgrounds only so far as is relevant for the experiment.

Zola, being a trained journalist, doesn't quite allow himself to go that far, but this is still very much a stripped down affair, intended to examine the effect of committing a murder on two lovers. At this time, it was believed that humans were driven by different tempers - bilious, sanguine, nervous and lymphatic. People of a bilious or lymphatic nature were prone to mental distortions. Zola uses these characteristics as handles for his leading characters and his psychological profile as to how they react to events is driven by this piece of medical knowledge. A lot of the surrounding imagery of the book - colours, locations and so on - is based on the traits that were thought to accompany these conditions.

About two thirds of the book is concerned with the consequences of the murder and almost all of this focuses on how the actors are feeling rather than what they are doing. Indeed, Zola often skips over bits of action with a wave of his pen, simply noting that events have happened and as a result the protagonists now have new emotions to deal with. It's the total opposite of the modern `show don't tell' school of writing. Nonetheless, the reader does want to know what will happen next and I confess this is one of the very, very few books that I have taken a peek to see how the story ends.

This could easily be a stage play - there are very few locations and only four leading characters; but the novel form works here because Zola spends most of his time inside the protagonist's heads so that their increasingly desperate states of mind and actions become intelligible to the reader.

If you know and like Zola from, say, Germinal or La Bête Humaine, which are more conventional novels then you will find this very different - more claustrophobic and less colourful. Nonetheless, Zola's engaging style makes it a page turner and an interesting read.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Awful. Just awful., 21 Mar. 2015
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This review is from: Therese Raquin (Kindle Edition)
Woop! Woop! Book club alert!

Therese Raquin was not my Book Club choice. The last book I chose for Book Club was Persepolis, by Marjane Satrape, which is superb.

Therese Raquin is not superb. It is a miserable story about horrible people doing hateful things.

Okay, so, the plot is basically: a woman is unhappily married to an unpleasant man, so has an affair with his best friend. They have trouble in finding somewhere to conduct their affair, so they decide to kill the woman's husband (obviously), but the guilt over the murder drives them insane. <spoiler> They end up killing themselves </spoiler>

Jesus, what a depressing book. It had absolutely no redeeming qualities whatsoever.

And also: overdescribe, much? Seriously, a handkerchief cannot lay on a table without the author finding it necessary to describe it in mind-numbing detail.

The only reason I'm giving this book one star is because there isn't the option to give it zero stars.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars When the webs you create catch you in them, 19 Dec. 2011
This review is from: Thérèse Raquin (Penguin Classics) (Paperback)
The book reflects the age in which the author lived and wants to be a chronicle of that period. It displays the way money ruled society and the immorality behind a surface of good intentions. The characters have as a moral law what the world will think of them and what it is seen out of their actions.
It is interesting by following the pages to see what becomes of a world in which everyone acts so as to make a good impression. The web created by these people, their world, is a theater and a comedy, nothing is sincere and authentic. Naturally, we get what we expect, the characters that are part of this web of superficiality get forever caught in it. Subsequently, their dramas won't even be known and will kill them physically and spiritually in silence and despair. As the books itself shows, we can see how man can dig his own grave.
I found it to be a very enjoyable read, with lessons to be learned.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Very graphic literature, 8 Nov. 2010
By 
Joan "Joan Wattam" (South Yorkshire, UK) - See all my reviews
Having reached the stage where it is possible,with a dictionary to hand, for me to read French literature that is separate from what is set in Class, this is my first experience of reading Zola.

Although Therese Raquin could not be described as an edifying read, it is very graphic, very dramatic, and I am looking forward to obtaining the DVD!

As Zola writes in his preface, he had embarked, through this novel, on an aspect of humanity that was not commonplace in literature at that time. It recounts and teaches how self-destructive evil is! - Though it is not a sermon, simply a discourse on human nature at its worst!
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5.0 out of 5 stars An intellegent critique of borgeious life, 7 Aug. 2001
By A Customer
It was with this novel thar Emile Zola shot to great fame, owing to the controversy it caused. The novel is the story of a sexully repressed woman who is married to a disabled man. However, she embarks on an affair with an artist, killing her husband and eventually commiting suicide bec ause of the guilt. The novels themes are similar to those of Flaubert's "Madame Bovary" (a superior novel) in that the book deals with the sexual repression of women and the actions that this dangerous repression can lead to. Allthough some may se it as a defense of adultery, it s underneath an intellegent and sensitive depiction of feminine desire and fulfiment, as well as an incisive look at the nature of guilt.
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Thérèse Raquin (Penguin Classics)
Thérèse Raquin (Penguin Classics) by Émile Zola (Paperback - 29 July 2004)
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