Country girl Denise Baudu arrives in Paris hoping for a position in her uncle's clothing shop. However, her uncle's shop, along with other small shops in the area, is doing poorly. This is due to the large store across the street - The Ladies' Paradise - which is swallowing up the small specialty stores by offering "one-stop shopping" at discounted prices. Nineteenth-century Paris is experiencing the dawn of the department store. Despite her loyalty to her uncle, Denise is drawn to the progressive Ladies' Paradise and it's owner, the driven but charismatic Monsieur Mouret. This book was the basis for the PBS Masterpiece Classic series, The Paradise.
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rich and layered use of description
Narrator stands in the way of the book.
This is an incomprehensible choice of narrator for this book. Ms. Howlett butchers the pronunciation of all the French proper names, place names, and particularly street names (which play an unusually large part in this narrative). I don't ask for perfection in pronunciation of French words in an English translation, but Howlett's pronunciation is so bad it's practically comic. Encumbered by this, she mangles the rhythm of the prose, even in English.
In addition, she reads all of the younger women characters in a voice suitable for very young children. It adds a surreal element to the narrative that was certainly not intended by the author.
I found the story quite fascinating, but a struggle to follow because of the reader.
- Susan C. S.