Zola is one of those authors who, once you encounter one, you must have more. His works are particularly gritty and he was a vocal and savage critic of the politics emerging under Napoleon III. This book is the first of twenty (yes, twenty!) dealing with the Les Rougon-Macquart family during the Second Empire. It is a book involving human passions and firmly sets the tone for the rest of the books in the series.
The plot is simple: a woman in an arranged marriage is fed up with her weak husband and finds a lover. What action can they take to ensure the husband is put out of the way so that they can eventually marry?
Zola brings to life vividly not only the impoverished conditions in which these characters live, but deals surprisingly bluntly, for the Victorians, with the sexual passions that envelope the two lovers. The denouement, however, is not one of happiness for them. Gripping stuff!
Thérèse Raquin is translated by Adam Thorpe and published by Vintage Classics, available on Amazon