I picked up a gem in the bookshop yesterday, called Therese Raquin by Emile Zola. Now usually I don’t go for French novels (not to mention films) because most of them are not to my taste as they are rife with sex and sexual imagery, which becomes prosaic. Anyway I decided to give Therese Raquin a chance because I had never heard of the author and let me just say I am VERY glad I decided to give him a chance as it has become one of the best novels I have ever read.
Therese Raquin tells the story of a young woman, unhappily married to her first cousin by an overbearing aunt who may seem to be well-intentioned but in many ways is deeply selfish. Her cousin, Camille, is sickly and selfish, and when the opportunity arises, Thérèse enters into a turbulent and sordidly passionate affair with one of Camille’s friends, Laurent. Now I don’t want to give away too much of the plot but lets just say it has EVERYTHING- sex, murder, adultery, passion, suicide and love.
The sexual scenes in the book were very brief and did not detract from the story. Also I find it really intresting that although the sex scenes in Therese Raquin would be considered as very mild by todays standards when the book was published in 1968, it was considered outrageous and condemned as pornography (oh how times have changed!).
Anyway what makes this book really speacial is that it makes you THINK, which is the best kind of books in my opinion. This book not only makes you questions yourself but human nature itself. The two main characters Therese Raquin and Laurent are ruled by such animalistic passions- you start to question what really seperates us from the primitive animals out there? When we look at these two characters the answer seem to be: very little. The two characters are like primitive animals and seem to have animal instincts- in the fact that, when they want something they, like animals, just take it without thinking of the consequences.
I don’t want to give too much of the book away in case you decide to read it for yourself anyway it is a MUST read and will be kept on my book shelf for all time.