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4.5 out of 5 stars
4.5 out of 5 stars

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on 14 December 2015
The second in Zola's Rougon-Macquart twenty volume series, and the first to be set in Paris concerns Aristide Rougon (who during this novel changes his last name to Saccard - and is the focus of a later volume, Money, already reviewed here), his arrival in Paris from Plassans, and his gradual rise as a a property speculator, during Haussmann's transformation of the city under Napoleon III.
His first wife dies, he then marries a much younger woman for a large dowery and to bring respectability to the lovely Renee, and with this dowry starts his long climb to fame and fortune. Along the way his estranged, and slightly effeminate, son comes to live with him and eventually has an affair with the neurotic Renee.
Zola's poetic descriptions of life and death during the Second Empire and it's lusts for money and pleasure are a delight and his finely drawn characters excite. And being a 19th century novel, it's never going to have a happy ending, but there is none of the sentimentality of, say, a Dickens.
Even though it is only the second of twenty, already his style is firmly cemented for the following stories, and I've not come across a bad one yet!
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on 22 April 2013
Possibly not the entry-level Zola (try 'The Ladies' Paradise'), but once you've got a little way into Zola's world (maybe via the 'Belly of Paris), this one will tell you much of how Paris got to be the way it is. The Paris of Haussmann that we so admire today was the product of an orgy of property speculation, Here Zola combines the headlong pursuit of his characters towards riches undreamed of and terminal corruption of the soul with a rigorous social commentary (and the benefit of hindsight of course as the bubble finally burst).
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on 2 June 2015
If you can get past the extraordinarily detailed (and sometimes tedious) descriptions, The Kill is a wild and melodramatic satire of the voracious greed and corruption of the second French Empire. Zola is ever the disapproving moralist, more interested in hammering home his point than in depth of character, but his depictions of the debauchery of his characters is highly entertaining, and certain passages and scenes are quite extraordinary. Well worth the effort.
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on 2 November 2014
I can't say that I agree with the other reviewers. While this novel is full of Zola's scathing perceptiveness, entertaining characters and great scene-setting, this particular novel is punctuated with overly descriptive passages which simply get in the way of the story. The poor pacing can be seen when we get to the endgame when the story should be rattling towards the denouement - instead, the main thrust of the story is frequently interrupted by pointlessly long passages of description.

If you haven't read any Zola yet, don't start here. I would recommend La Bête Humaine, L'Assomoir, Germinal, Therese Racquin, and Nana. These are all brilliant.

If you've read these already, then have a go at this too - but don't expect it to be one of Zola's best.
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on 23 December 2006
The second novel in Zola's Rougon-Macquart cycle, this is one of his best novels. Written in 1871 and published just after the fall of the Second Empire in France, "The Kill" shows that society at its decadent height. The action takes place in the playgrounds of the fabulously wealthy and tells the story of a woman driven into a scandalous affair by her oblivious husband's utter self-obsession and greed, set against the backdrop of Haussmann's massive redevelopment and the birth of modern Paris. This new translation is excellent, and represents the first new English edition for almost 110 years.
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on 7 August 2007
This new translation by Brian Nelson is excellent. He captures Zola's juxtaposition of intensely detailed descriptive passages with fast moving dialogue. The over wrought, MillsandBoonesque descriptions of hothouse l'amour are great fun. In this novel, sympathetic characters are hard to find. Apparently based on real individuals and events, Zola pulls no punches in his portrayl of greed and lust and how they impact upon the protagonists. The prosaic final two lines of the novel feel like a bucket of cold water dumped over the reader's head.
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on 10 April 2010
i must confess this is one of my favourite novels. it is classic zola, mixing highlife and low, stripping away the veneer of the upper bourgeoisie and finding them not so different from anyone else.

the subject matter is dark and curiously modern - the twin prongs of renee's affair with her dandified step son maxime taking place against the husband/father saccard's dodgy property speculations. for me the business side was fascinating, echoing as it does the spectacular boom we have recently seen in the uk, a lot of it achieved through similarly murky machinations. after reading this the elegant haussmann era developments in paris will never look quite the same again.

only the second book in the cycle but it is perfectly assured, beautifully written and kudos to the translater who has done a marvellous job.

the five star rating isn't overstating the matter, it truly is that good.
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on 26 April 2014
I enjoyed this book a great deal. This is the second part of the infamous Rougon-Macquart cycle of twenty volumes by Emile Zola, and follows on from ‘The Fortune of the Rougons’.

For a relatively short book of 260 pages this took me an inordinate amount of time to read. I kind of lost my way at the midpoint and didn’t get back to it for a few months. That is not to suggest that this was the fault of the book though. I gave this book four stars out of five despite the high quality, since I know that other books in this cycle are even better.

The writing was technically very proficient, as one might expect, and the descriptive passages evocative of everything one imagines of Paris of this period.

It was an interesting insight into the influence of Haussmann on the architecture of, and ultimately, the face of the future Paris.

The power of this book, I believe, is the authors ability to bring to life the hedonistic lifestyle followed by many Parisians, and the debauchery that prevailed at the time. He combined this with an exploration of the underbelly of Paris and the corruption associated with the development and rebuilding of the city.

I enjoyed the character development, which was superb, along with the relationships of Renee with her husband, Sacard and his son, her lover, Maxime. The characters were interesting and fully formed. I liked the numerous small links to the family history, as this both tied the story in with the previous volume and set the stage for future volumes.

I would recommend this book to anyone with an interest in Paris of this period, due to the dearth of information that can be gleaned from it, or those interested in classic French literature. It was a fantastic account of the period, and an excellent read.
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on 11 June 2016
Currently on my route through the Rougon series and have thoroughly enjoyed this part of it.

If your interested to see a painted portrait of excess and the results thereof this is a book to read.
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on 30 April 2010
This is a book that gives us a detailed look into the lives of three rather dissipated characters: The elder Saccard, his second wife, Renee, and Maxime, a son borne of his first marriage. All three are competely unconscionable people but, due to the genius of Zola, there is, somehow, pathos in their positions. Saccard is a man who thinks of nothing but money (clearly seen in his actions duirng the death of his first wife) though the reader is made to feel sympathy for him when his empire begins to crumble and his business partners take advantage of the situation. Maxime is a cad of the first order but little else could really have been expected of a man who from his youth was 'Renee's plaything'. Renee is a character simply searching for affection amid the falseness of Parisian high society.
La Curée is an excellent example of the realist/naturalist style, however, this is not for everyone and some may find certain section pertaining to social convenitons of the time rather dull. The beauty of the writing is, however, for all to enjoy.

P.S. Fred "the shred" Goodwin and his brethren should have checked out the bits about reckless speculation - most informative
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