Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Therese Raquin

I finished this book a while ago and just haven't had time to post about it. I've been busy knitting desperately trying to get some Christmas presents done. I really haven't been doing much reading at all. I have started a 'knitting novel' for one of my December book clubs, though.

This novel by Emile Zola apparently caused quite a stir when it was first published in 1868. The novel tells the tragic story of Therese and her lover Laurent and the lengths that they go to in order to be together. For the time, the sex scenes were quite explicit, and the author was actually accused of pornography. I personally didn't think they were that explicit and don't think most people today would be offended by them. The Penguin Classics edition that I read contains a preface in which Zola defends his work against these accusations.

Therese is taken in by a woman after she is orphaned and is raised with the woman's sickly son, Camille. It's just assumed by all that the two will marry one day, which they do. The three live a relatively happy life until Camille brings a young man home with him one day. Laurent awakens feelings in Therese that she has never experienced before. The two begin an affair and become obsessed with possessing each other. This is not a sweet story of a forbidden love. Instead, it quickly turns into a very dark tale, and Therese and Laurent find themselves in a living nightmare.


Lezlie said...

I've got this on my shelf and have been meaning to get to it for a while. It sounds like something I'll like when I finally get to it. Thanks for the review!


Andrea said...

It sounds fascinating! The subject reminds me of Madame Bovary and Anna Karenina, women marrying men because they are expected to or feel they have no other choice, then meeting another man they are passionate about.

It's interesting how books that were once seen as pornography and offensive are now a matter of fact and don't make us think twice. I wonder if the controversial books being published now will be seen that way in the future.

Lisa said...

lezlie, I'm glad I finally got around to reading it. My husband actually bought it for me some time ago.

andrea, I think you're right. This is one of those cases of a woman not feeling as though she has many choices in life. Things are decided for her.

Dorothy W. said...

When I get around to reading Zola, this is probably the book I'll pick up. Thanks for the description, because now I'm even more interested than I was before.

JoAnn said...

Great review! I've wanted to read this for some time and actually started it on DailyLit, but prefer a physical book. Maybe I'll treat myself.

Lisa said...

dorothy, I think you'll enjoy it.

Joann, I've tried several books on DailyLit and other similar services and just can't get into it. I have to have the book.