Classics Club: November meme


The task from the Classics Club this month is to pick a title someone else in the club has read from the big review list and explain why their post makes you excited to read that classic in particular.

I’ve chosen my namesake Karen who blogs at the Books and Chocolate blog. Here is her take on a book I have on my Classics Club list:

A book about poor French people who drink themselves to death!

Reading that wonderfully succinct description of Emile Zola‘s L’Assommoir convinced me to abandon my nervousness about this book and to make sure I read it next year. It’s been sitting on my shelf for about two years now while I steeled myself to open it.  The hesitation is there simply because although I rate Germinal, one of the other novels in Les Rougon-Macquart series as one of my all-time top three novels and was also engrossed by La Bette Humaine and  Therese Raquin, I just couldn’t get into another of his novels Nana. Even though this was extremely well received upon publication and continues to  be rated highly, I just couldn’t get interested in it and in fact never finished it.

But reading the review by Karen has persuaded me that L’Assommoir really is a book I would enjoy reading. I loved the freshness of Karen’s style of writing and her personal response to the book. Here’s an example:

I’ve read a lot of books with characters that I like to call fascinating train wrecks, but Gervaise [protagonist in L’Assommoir] has to be one of the worst — but Zola writes her and her situation so well.  The characters seem so real that sometimes I just want to jump into the book and give them a good shaking.

Will be interesting to see if I have the same response.


What do you need to know about me? 1. I'm from Wales which is one of the countries in the UK and must never be confused with England. 2. My life has always revolved around the written and spoken word. I worked as a journalist for nine years then in international corporate communications 3. My tastes in books are eclectic. I love realism and hate science fiction and science fantasy. 4. I am trying to broaden my reading horizons geographically by reading more books in translation

5 thoughts on “Classics Club: November meme

  • November 27, 2013 at 7:28 pm

    I read some Zola years ago when I was so young I maybe didn’t fully appreciate him, although I remember really enjoying them particularly Germinel – I think I should revisit some, one of these days.

  • November 26, 2013 at 9:46 pm

    That’s reassuring to know. Bette Humaine isn’t exactly about the lighter side of life so I’m beginning to appreciate that dark is what you get with Zola

  • November 26, 2013 at 3:29 pm

    I love Zola, but I also loved Nana – in fact that was the first of his I ever read. I think L’Assommoir is more akin to Germinal than Nana, though. It’s probably the darkest book I’ve ever read, but if you liked Germinal, that won’t come as a surprise!


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