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Therese Raquin (Penguin Classics) Paperback – February 22, 2005

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Editorial Reviews


"A gripping yarn" Guardian --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

Language Notes

Text: English, French (translation) --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Classics; Reprint edition (February 22, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0140449442
  • ISBN-13: 978-0140449440
  • Product Dimensions: 5.1 x 0.6 x 7.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.5 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (58 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #69,336 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

32 of 38 people found the following review helpful By Damian Kelleher on December 10, 2006
Format: Paperback
From the opening page, we are aware that this will be a dark work. 'Above the glazed roof the wall rises towards the sky,' writes Zola, 'black and coarsely rendered, as if covered with leprous sores and zigzagged with scars.'

A small household is described. We have Camille, a sickly, mothered, placid boy. As he becomes older, his mother's protective nature remains as strong as it was when he was a child. He is plied with medicines and 'adoring devotion', such that 'His growth had been stunted, so that he remained small and sickly looking; the movement of his skinny limbs were slow and tired.' Camille is presented as a wholly unattractive young man, with his ignorance 'just one more weakness in him.'

And then we have Therese Raquin. She was given to Camille's mother by his uncle when she was two, and has remained in Madame Raquin's household ever since. Therese has suffered the medicinal ministrations of Camille's mother, and because of this, has developed a quiet, introspective, intense demeanour. 'she developed a habit of speaking in an undertone, walking about the house without making any noise, and sitting silent and motionless on a chair with a vacant look in her eyes.'

This is an unhappy household. Or, perhaps, because everyone is so concerned with repressing any spark of feeling or emotion, it is a dead house that just happens to still be living. Camille is too ignorant and sick to have a personality beyond the studied egotism of a man who has grown up with a dominating, too-concerned mother, while Therese is a blank piece of paper, purposely unwritten upon. When her twenty-first birthday arrives, Madame Raquin informs Therese that she is to marry Camille.
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30 of 36 people found the following review helpful By Heather Simmons on April 24, 2006
Format: Paperback
Therese Raquin pulled me right into the story. I couldn't put it down, I had to find out what was going to happen next. It was destined to be a classic.
The story is about a young woman named Therese Raquin, who is unhappily married to her sickly, weak cousin Camille. As a child Therese was adopted by Madam Raquin. Camille was her sick son, who she kept close watch over and spoiled with home-made medicines and warm blankets. Camille was always fond of Therese and insisted that she take the medicne before he did (Even though she was never sick). Madam Raquin decided to arrange for the two to one day marry because she feared that there would be no one to take care of Camille once she was gone. Therese and Camille wed once they were 21. Madam Raquin owned a shop that Therese helped her run, and Camille insisted on taking a job as a clerk because he was bored with staying at home. One day Camille ran into his old friend from childhood, Laurent. Laurent is a strong, handsom man, unlike Camille who is small, puny, and and ugly. Therese is immediatley infatuated with Laurent and soon falls in love with him. Laurent is a lazy ladiesman who has landed a job as a clerk at the same company as Camille after failing as an artist. Laurent finds Therese to be ugly and boring because of her constant silence, but he yearns for the company of a woman and sees Therese as an easy woman for him to seduce. He decides to become her lover right under Camille's nose. Madam Raquin considers Laurent a son, Camille considers him a brother, and Therese is crazy about him, so he has no problems arranging meetings for he and Therese to spend a few hours together. Laurent becomes amazed by Therese's lively spirit and activity in the bedroom and quickly falls under her spell.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on July 9, 2004
Format: Paperback
"Therese Raquin" has all the right ingredients where living terror tales are made up of. Comprised of characters of freakish nature (sicky pale, childish, pasty face husband, the kind but naive doting mother, the cruel and good for nothing handsome lover, the plain, boring ugly uninspiring neighbours and of course the dangerously oppressed Therese herself)and their gray depressing surroundings, Zola describes the realistic scene of the poor in France. In the story, a young woman who has to endure a socially/mentally deprived environment in her husband and mother in law's house begins an affair with her husband's childhood friend. Frustrated at their slim chance of a better future, both decide to kill Therese's husband to pursue their happiness together. But is the poor man really dead? Or isn't he..... Ironic, full of suspense, shocking psychology and ugly side of human psychics, Zola has managed to link each of complex human emotion with psychological terror into his tale. If you think this is another simple tale of adultery, you're definitely missing out a lot. Treat yourself to a night of terror and give this a chance!
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on March 2, 2002
Format: Paperback
Therese Raquin is a tale of adultery, murder and madness, but even though it encompasses such emotional issues, it is a novel strangely devoid of emotion. Zola, himself, said he wanted to write a "scientific" book about people with no free will.
Therese Raquin does have its poetic moments. This is not surprising since Zola, himself, was a poet and parttime art critic. The details of Camille's portrait, in particular, are extremely descriptive, as is the dismal dankness of the shop in the Passage de Pont Neuf. In fact, it is the things in this book, particularly the scar on Laurent's neck, that seem to take on a life of their own, independent of the characters involved.
Although Zola wanted Therese Raquin to be a book of "scientific precision," he often slipped into rather vague and repetitive writing. Many times Zola writes, "une vague sensation de..." or "une sorte de vague impression de...." Why didn't Zola choose to use the more precise noun or adjective instead?
The vagueness that plagues the first two/thirds of this book gives way to high melodrama in the final one/third. The madness and horror that characterize Therese and Laurent is, at first, beautifully graded, however during the last chapters, Zola seems to have gotten carried away with himself, for he piles one horrific superlative on another.
Despite the criticism above, Therese Raquin remains an outstanding tale of sin, murder and madness. The claustrophobic atmosphere in which it is told only adds to the book's nightmarish qulitity. That Zola could accomplish so much with so few characters is definitely a major feat.
Therese Raquin is definitely a 19th century tale and definitely an interior one. Although not perfect, it's still better than ninety percent of the books you'll ever read. I enjoyed this book immensely and I hope you will, too.
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