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Other Products in Classic Fiction. Conscious Creativity: Look. Books Blog Books Blog Posts. Back To Top. Country of delivery:. Enter your postcode: optional. Despite her uncle's disapproval, Denise accepts a job at Mouret's ever expanding department store The Ladies' Delight. She rents a room above old Bourras' umbrella shop and quickly sets about trying to find other work. With local shops closing as The Delight expands, the task proves more difficult than she imagined. I read this book when I was very young, and it has been so long since then.

Of course it's my next to-re-read book. It is one of my all-time favorites. I just love it, LOVE it! I have no words.

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This book is a masterpiece! I highly recommend it. Everyone should read it, the girls at least I would like to read a modern-era book of this subject. May 28, snackywombat v. This book is truly a classic, and the whole time I was reading it, I was reminded of those summer reading lists that I always had in high school, full of lofty tomes that looked dusty and boring but when I knuckled down into them, they would suddenly refine my lazy summer of peaches, sunshine and secret cigarettes. Books like these give us pu This book is truly a classic, and the whole time I was reading it, I was reminded of those summer reading lists that I always had in high school, full of lofty tomes that looked dusty and boring but when I knuckled down into them, they would suddenly refine my lazy summer of peaches, sunshine and secret cigarettes.

Books like these give us purpose -- The Ladies' Paradise is more than a tortured love story, although it is that indeed. It's the history of industrialization and urbanization, and makes that early fetal stage of the modern economy actually fascinating. Zola is obviously obsessed with Paris, or rather the new Paris, the one growing outcrops of large department stores and rampant consumerism; spurting jobs that draw rustic country people to the city; opening the avenues of class to allow rich bourgeois store owners to ascend into the upper ranks.

And then there is the Cinderella story of the main character, Denise Baudu, a homely orphan who arrives in Paris wearing a threadbare black dress and clogs the horror! Fashion is an excessively important symbol in this novel for tons of social nuances, and the lengthy descriptions of materials and displays in the store can get tedious, but the interest created in the characters of Octave Mouret and Denise sustain the reader.

Only Zola is able to create a masterpiece despite a flat, one-dimensional, saint-like main character and a dull ending. Capitalism doesn't seem to have come a long way in the past or so years and humanity doesn't either. View 2 comments. Dec 17, Gill rated it really liked it.

I think I probably like this novel best of all the Zola novels we have read. The small business men and their families and shops.

It seemed really sad that they weren't able to see any successful way to stand up to Mouret and his expanding business. I know some of them made attempts eg price cutting but none of them was successful.

Oxford World's Classics: The Ladies' Paradise (2008, UK-Paperback)

I thought the umbrella maker might stand a chance with the extremely detailed handles he was carving. Certain I think I probably like this novel best of all the Zola novels we have read. Certainly nowadays it tends to be the small, very specialised business that stands out against the superstore. The small businesses in the book didn't offer very good personal service though did they? Well not the sort of personal service that the new clientele seemed to want.

I found the description of the conditions for the staff at Ladies' Paradise, and how they changed over time, very interesting. Zola excels at the small details. Although Zola shows how much of a machine the shop was, he also brings the individual members of staff to life. He describes gossip so well! I like the descriptions of how the store changed over time, and the tactics that were used to increase sales. The customers were interesting in that they seemed very similar to nowadays.

I loved the descriptions of the goods for sale, especially the fabrics. You could smell them and feel them and see what they looked like. Very similar to the descriptions of the markets in 'The Belly of Paris'. And then there are the 'main' characters, Denise and Mouret. I thought Zola made Denise a more complex character than he does many of them.

She was so dignified. Mouret was a more typical Zola character. Their stories were told well enough. I appreciated Zola's writing in this novel. I didn't feel he was ramming his point of view down my throat as much as in some of the other Rougon-Maquart novels. Perhaps his point of view was more complex, in itself, than in some of the other books? First published in , although fiction, it is fascinating to learn that there were huge department stores with thousands of employees and even a mail order division one hundred and twenty years ago.

The story focuses on Denise, a young woman who arrives in Paris with her two younger brothers after the death of their parents leaves them without means. Denise has counted on obtaining employment at her Au Bonheur des Dames The Ladies' Delight refers to one of the first huge department stores. Denise has counted on obtaining employment at her uncle's shop. However, when she arrives she discovers that his shop is just one of the many small business that are being slowly run out of business and consumed by Au Bonheur des Dames.

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May 29, Cheryl rated it liked it. I've never been a big fan of just shopping for shopping's sake. When I need to buy something, I like to get in, get it, and leave the store. I think if I liked shopping more I'd have given this book a higher rating. The main character in this book is the department store itself. It was interesting to see the development of the modern megastore way back in 19th. The financing, marketing, and logistics of running such a huge enterprise was fascinating to read about. However, there wa I've never been a big fan of just shopping for shopping's sake.

However, there was some repetition in the plot that failed to hold my interest. The store would be made larger, departments added and the merchandise displays would be endlessly described in great detail. Then a huge sale would take place, with hordes of female customers in raptures of purchasing items.

This formula was repeated more than once, and for me once was enough. Not my favorite Zola novel, but not horrible either. Shopaholics might love it, though. Jul 05, Jane rated it really liked it Shelves: borrowed. Now I have finished reading, I am inclined to say that the verdict is flawed but fabulous.

Let me explain. The story begins with twenty year-old Denise Baudu and her two young brothers arriving in Paris from the country.


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Denise has done her best for her brothers since their parents died, but she was struggling, and so she came to Paris to take up the offer of help and support that her uncle had offered. I was immediately pulled in by the storytelling, and I worried that maybe that offer was the kind you make but expect never to be taken up. And indeed it was. The establishment hated and resented by her uncle and his neighbours. She understood their feelings, but she had to work, and she was drawn to dazzling emporium.

Denise secured a job. The descriptions are rich, detailed, and utterly captivating. It draws in the ladies of Paris very cleverly, with carefully planned layouts, seasonal sales, attentive service, such well thought out, modern marketing.


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So much modernity, but behind the scenes it was rather different. For the staff it was not so very different from life in service in a big house. They lived in dormitories, ate in a canteen, had little time of their own, and had to work, work, work to secure the commission they so desperately needed and to hold on to their jobs.

Denise struggled at first, and she was easy prey for ambitious, ruthless salesgirls. But she knew she had to support her family, she held on to her principles, and, though there were many setbacks, in time she would rise through the ranks. A man who knows how to seduce women, in his private life and in his wonderous emporium. But Denise is the woman who will not be seduced.

With wonderful, readable storytelling. With rich descriptions, and so, so many details. And with some quite extraordinary set-pieces. The leads were a little too predictable, a little too straightforward, and the supporting cast a little too one-dimensional. And the view of human nature was a little bleak. So many thoughtless, selfish people. But I loved watching the social changes that the department store was bringing, and I was captivated by the nicely predictable love story. Sep 19, Diane rated it it was amazing.

I desperately wanted a strong, good woman character with a positive ending. This would have to be one of Zola's more accessible books is this phase still used as it plots the course of beautiful, determined and honourable Denise, a real worker and in her way, a visionary. Orphaned and penniless Denise and her little brother Jean arrive on the doorstep of their Uncle Baudu, hoping to b It was with fear and trepidation that I started Zola's "Ladies' Delight" - I was still reeling from "Therese Raquin". Orphaned and penniless Denise and her little brother Jean arrive on the doorstep of their Uncle Baudu, hoping to be given work and shelter but their uncle's shop, a run down haberdashery is under the shadow of "Ladies' Delight", a looming department store that even as the story starts is planning on expansion.

The Ladies' Paradise Summary

Interesting thing, a few months ago there was an English serial on TV called "The Paradise" - it was a very loose adaptation of "Ladies' Delight", not that you'd recognize it - all style and no substance. Instead of France it was set in the north of England and the sub plot that made Zola's novel great, the smaller shops being sucked into the vortex of the huge department store's tentacles was almost missing!! Another missing part was the sub-plot involving dissolute Jean - it seems Zola must always have a despicable man among his characters.

It is on account of Jean's recklessness that they seek out their Uncle. Even thought Jean has not been paid for his apprenticeship to a cabinet maker in their home town, he has developed a taste for the finer things of life - due to his scandalous affair with a young girl. And for most of the book his extravagances push Denise to brink of penury and despair.

Denise, in desperation, gets a job in "The Ladies' Delight" - much to her Uncle's disgust but it is here that her hard work and organisational skills bring her to the notice of Mouret, the all powerful owner. Mouret is a lady's man and has current and discarded mistresses among the shop girls - he becomes very interested in her but Denise's only interest is in getting on.

The Ladies' Paradise by Emile Zola, Brian Nelson | Waterstones

Another striking feature of the book is the lush descriptions of the fabrics and the interior of the shop - the sumptuous furnishings and of how the "lay out" of the shop begins to take place. In dire contrast with the awfulness and dirt and grime of the street where other shop owners are driven mad as they are engulfed by this light emblazoned monster. Definitely I would recommend this as an introduction to Zola - for once a heroine who is resourceful and virtuous and keeps these qualities to give her a happy ending.

Dec 11, Maria rated it really liked it. I had high expectations on this novel. Could have something to do with BBC's adaptation. I won't say I was disappointed but I wasn't really happy either. I blame BBC. The novel is set in the late century Paris. Denise and her two younger brothers comes to Paris to make a living after their parent's death.

She was hoping to get help from her uncle, but as it turns out, a large department store has opened just opposite the uncle's shop and all the smaller shops around this "monstrosity" are on I had high expectations on this novel. She was hoping to get help from her uncle, but as it turns out, a large department store has opened just opposite the uncle's shop and all the smaller shops around this "monstrosity" are on the brink of bankruptcy. Monsieur Mouret is the genius behind this "monstrosity", that he has created to "seduce" his female costumers.

When Denise walks into his life everything changes. He who is used to always get what he wants, suddenly gets a no. He can't even understand why he wants her so, it can't only be because she's the only one who has turned him down. Eventually he throws himself at her feet, begging her to love him. The only thing I can think is "how on earth has she got the heart to say no?

This makes my reading a bit annoyed and hastened, but I did get to enjoy Zola's vivid language and sometimes too embellished and detailed accounts of dresses and buildings. Denise Joanna Vanderham comes to town, without brothers here, and falls head over heels for Morey who wouldn't? Denise takes more room in the adaptation, and she's not as teased as in the novel.

It's thanks to the adaptation, which I happened upon on facebook the great think about following pages such as British period drama who tells you about new great series! I do hope the tv-series will find it's way to Sweden, so that all of you, who hasn't BBC on their tv box or is skulking around the net to find streaming services, can also enjoy this wonderful tv-series. Until then, you can always read the book! To say Emile Zola had a way with words would be an insulting understatement. This is a great story, a study of the effects of capitalism as well as a study of human behavior.

My only complaint would be that Zola was oftentimes a bit too wordy. Setting that aside, I was fascinated by the portrayal of the rise of the first department store in France and the effect it had on its section of Paris. Zola managed to present it in such a way wherein both parties the big store "counter jumpers" and the To say Emile Zola had a way with words would be an insulting understatement.

Zola managed to present it in such a way wherein both parties the big store "counter jumpers" and the small business mom and pop stores are guilty and innocent. He tells the story without asking the reader to choose a side because, ultimately, both sides are simultaneously right and wrong. It's a long book, so don't expect to finish it in one night. I came close only because I'm a fast reader and the tension between Denise and Mouret had me scrambling to see what happened between them.

The ending was a bit too abrupt for my taste, but hey, you can't have everything. My teaching style is flexible; I adapt my methods to best fit my students' learning styles and goals. Read more. Textbook Price Tracker. Back to top. Need a Classics tutor?