This edition published:
Reading rank: 2
L'assommoir is the seventh novel in the cycle. It concerns Gervaise Macquart and her downward spiral into alcoholism and destitution. Gervaise is the mother of Anna (aka: Nana) of a later novel.
This novel, like Germinal, shows the decline of a character that is so absolute that it seems impossible for one chapter to follow another - as if there is nowhere further for the character to fall. As Zola writes: "Poverty didn't kill quick enough." Nevertheless, this is an enjoyable novel and the descriptions are vivid. It is close to Dickens in many ways, but more harsh and ugly than anything Dickens ever wrote. I suppose I had hoped for the drinking scenes to be better - funnier, even - but Zola remains objective and drunkeness is depicted from its outward appearances rather than how it feels. But, of course, Zola wasn't writing 'Fear and Loathing in Paris'!