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Publisher's Summary

La naissance du grand magasin, pieuvre commerciale écrasant le petit négoce traditionnel, conséquence inexorable du consumérisme inhérent au développement économique. Cette "Mécanique à manger les femmes" génère, pour fonctionner, une forme spécifique de communauté : une société hiérarchisée, avec son cortège d'arrivisme, de jalousie, de malveillance et de perfidie, mais aussi de progrès et de réussite.
Octave Mouret, précurseur inspiré, bouleverse sa corporation comme Haussmann bouleverse la ville. Il parie tout sur les femmes, sur leurs envies et sur leur incapacité à surmonter les tentations.
Une lui résiste : Denise, incarnation de la vertu et de la générosité. Elle devient une obsession pour cet ogre.
(P) Brumes de mars
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By Dr on 06-01-15

Tradition vs modernity - with a dollop of romance

Beautiful prose, beautifully read. A novel that explores the birth of commerce, the rise of materialism and the development of modern cities, in this case Paris. The tension between the old and the new, rich descriptions of daily life of the different social classes and Zola's mixed feelings about modernity sustain a plot that is otherwise remarkably simple, and a romance that depends on characters behaving in unconvincing ways. Anglophone readers will recognise in the novel some elements that were used in the British TV series 'The Paradise'.

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