Therese Raquin by Emile Zola

From the very first kiss she showed herself adept in the arts of love. Her unsated body threw itself frantically into pleasure; she was emerging as from a dream, she was being born into passion. She was pasing from the weakly arms of Camille into the vigorous embrace of Laurent, and this approach of a virile man was the sudden shock that aroused her from the sleep of the flesh. All the instincts of this highly-strung woman burst forth with unparalleled violence; her mother’s blood, the African blood that burned in her veins, now began to rush and beat furiously through her thin and still almost virgin body. She paraded this body, offering herself with supreme shamelessness. And long spasms ran through her from head to foot. (p. 64)
How quickly Therese fell from passion to depression. Little more than 100 pages later, this is the sentence which strikes my soul:

And each side of her the murderers sat silent and motionless, apparently listening attentively, though in reality they made no attempt to follow the old lady’s ramblings but were merely grateful for the sound of soft words which prevented their hearing the shouting of their thoughts. (p. 186)
It seems the shouting of their thoughts got them into this demise in the first place. First, their thoughts were shouting passion at any price. Then, their thoughts were shouting untold misery.

It’s a story of getting exactly what you wish for. Much like Madame Bovary before her. I love them both.

(Special thanks to Claire who mentioned this book in a comment regarding Paris in July.)

7 thoughts on “Therese Raquin by Emile Zola”

  1. I have yet to read Zola, but I am most interested in trying his works. I think I might start with this one (LOVE the quotes you selected), or possibly His Masterpiece.


  2. Interesting review, Bellezza! Sometimes getting what one wishes for must be a double-edged sword (that must be one of the most cliched comments ever 🙂 But that is what I feel). I haven't read Zola before – I am tempted to try now.


  3. I didn't realize I influenced you in picking this up! Didn't read your post until today, after I've finished the book myself. Wasn't it such a captivating read? I, too, was struck by the sudden spiraling down from passion to depression. Goes to show that crime really doesn't pay. Guilt and remorse will eat you up.


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