Monday, April 9, 2018

178. Germinal

Emile Zola
Around 550 pages

Old Amanda would have had a stroke over my new reading style. First I read The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn without having read The Adventures of Tom Sawyer. Now I have read books seven, nine, and thirteen out of Zola's Les Rougon-Macquart series. Clearly, I am much more easy going than I was before. *returns to book list I've been obsessively following for eight years*

Germinal tells the story of Etienne, who you may remember as Nana's brother. He is starving and desperate for work, because no one can be happy in Zola's novels. He arrives at Montsou, a bleak mining town, and finds employment as a mine cart pusher. He is almost immediately enamoured by Catherine, another mine worker (once he realizes she is not a boy; due to the poor health of the workers her body is really underdeveloped). Gradually, Etienne develops socialist ideas and leads the workers in a mine strike. Zola spends the rest of the novel outlining why these kind of strikes never work.

I think I read the novel in a much more pessimistic way than perhaps Zola intended. Even the title seems to imply a seed being sown for a better future, but based on the ending I'm a bit baffled by this. In any case, like in any Zola novel, the writing is excellent, the pacing is a bit slow, but the characters are so richly detailed I was reluctant to leave them.

Sidenote: Is it odd that I found the sex scene at the climax of the novel to be one of the most erotic scenes I've ever read? *crickets*

RATING: ****-

Interesting Facts:

13th novel out of Zola's 20 novel series.

Title refers to a month in the French Republican Calendar.

UP NEXT: King Solomon's Mines by H. Rider Haggard. I am fairly pumped.