Thérèse Raquin was my first taste of Émile Zola's writing, I have to say it pulled me in quickly. When published in 1867 the subject matter caused a scandal, but would seem rather mundane in today's world.
The preface material included a statement from Zola, indicating that 'He had set out to write a book on temperament, not character.' As I read along I felt this was accurate, he spends time describing, in detail, why a character is thinking/acting in the manner they are. He isn't simply stating this character is good and this one is bad, but opening us up to the inside of each person's thinking to explain their actions. The book would have likely fallen flat had it been simply a narrative on each person's character and not more on the study of why a person is lead to certain acts.
In addition, there is Zola's reaction to critics of his book.
'The author of Thérèse Raquin is a wretched hysteric who enjoys exhibiting pornography,'
Thérèse, orphaned as a young child, was left in the care of her aunt Madame Raquin. Her aunt had a young boy of her own at the time, Camille. He was a very sickly boy that was forever hovered over by his mother in the hopes that he would make it to adulthood. The two children grew up together and without any question that Madame Raquin expected them to marry when Thérèse was old enough. The wedding bells of this forced marriage were not blissful and here enters Laurent and the downward spiral for Thérèse.
Title: Thérèse Raquin
Author: Émile Zola
Publisher: Penguin Classics (2004)
Source: Public Library
Format Read: Paperback; ISBN: 9780140449440
Genres/Subjects: Fiction, Classic, 19th Century
[Notice: Original posting 2014-04-24 at Plethora of Books Blog: http://bookchallenges.weebly.com]
Tags: 2014, Classics