Others have already been more eloquent in their descriptions of this novel than I have time to transcribe here from my neural attic. I happened across this book at a church fair and had (somehow) heard of the name Zola. I have frequently traveled to France and after brief scan of some of the pages, noting the French names, decided to shell over the 50 cents for it. I started reading and was impressed by the deep descriptive abilities Zola had at his disposal; describing Etienne's initial perusal of the maw of the coal mine in the early hours of the morning with the inclusion of such descriptions as to how he shifted some of his arm held belongings from arm to arm under his elbow uncomforably. I was hooked and read the whole thing in less than 5 hours in one afternoon after setting aside the time due to the impressive beginning I espied that night at the church where the lovely rapture began.
As usual, the characters more than make the story. Each person is important! What a breath of fresh air. Most authors shrink at such a daunting task; but Zola performs the trick as though he loved each human in the world so much that set out to find out everything about them. The delicious social interactions are interspersed with the young man "coming to age" with his philosophical ideas actually being forced to germinate and yield fruit (hence the title). His germination is only one of many you see in the story; and not every plant that germinates lives to bear fruit. Or even if it does, it may rot on the vine; the ending is not important. The possibility of changing what is, for the betterment of many is the ever sought after and seemingly unreachable goal....
I highly recommend this book. Enjoy! You'll find yourself wishing you could meet the people in this book. :)
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