Sunday, November 3, 2013


For the past couple of years, I've made a habit of reading something scary during the month of October, something to set the mood for Halloween.  My choices in past years have included Dracula, The Castle of Otranto, The Mysteries of Udolpho, Carmilla, and The Phantom of the Opera.  This year I started with a collection of vampire stories called Bloodlines.  I got as far as the first story short story, "The Vampire of Coughlin Grange" by Augustus Hare.

Then Masterpiece played a trick on me.  They started showing a series called "The Paradise," set in a department store and based on the novel Au bonheur des dames by Emile Zola.  This is something that I've been meaning to read for a while.  The English translation is on my Kindle and I have the paperback in French.

The story concerns Octave Moret, who owns the big department store Au Bonheur des Dames in Paris. But his story actually starts in another novel, Pot-Bouille, which is about his arrival in Paris and his interactions with the tenants of a large apartment building.  So I left the vampires aside and switched to 19th century Paris.  Octave is handsome and attracts the attention of his female neighbors.  The novel's theme is about the moral hypocrisy of the middle class.  The husbands all have mistresses, but the wives are supposed to stay faithful.  And everyone is supposed to maintain an appearance of upright, moral behaviour.  I haven't started reading it in French, and the English translation is sometimes a bit creaky, but I like the story.

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