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I live in Bedford, England. Having retired from teaching; I am now a research student at the University of Bedfordshire researching into Threshold Concepts in the context of A-level Physics. I love reading! I enjoy in particular fiction (mostly great and classic fiction although I also enjoy whodunnits), biography, history and smart thinking. I have also recently become a keen playgoer to London Fringe Theatre. I enjoy mostly classics and I read the playscripts and add those to the blog. I am a member of Bedford Writers' Circle. See their website here: http://bedford-writers.co.uk/ Follow me on twitter: @daja57

Friday, 7 November 2014

"Therese Raquin" by Emile Zola

I saw the play of Therese Raquin recently at Malvern Theatre with the inimitable Alison Steadman as the older Madame Raquin. The play was brilliant, bringing alive the characters: Mme Raquin domineering, first turning Camille into a weak-willed invalid whose attempts at being a man lead to spiteful bullying and insisting that wild-child Therese marries him. The affair between Laurent and Therese is inevitable. The bit parts were also well done, particularly the stupid and insensitive Grivet.

In the play there are moments of sheer horror as the ghost of Camille rises from the bed and marches in and out of the room.

I was sceptical how the book would do the haunting scenes, given that Zola was an exponent of realism. And he carries it off! Everything is, or could be, in the imagination of the two murderers. Indeed, the book is a deep analysis of the psychology of two people who conceive of killing, who carry it out and who are then tormented by their guilt. Their uncontrollable passion for having sex with one another disappears as soon as Camille is dead. By the end, when they are married, they tear one another to pieces. He batters her and she sleeps around.

This book has the usual overwriting of the Victorians and is always inches away from melodrama. But it is compelling and its characters are believable. It chronicles the step by step degradation this is the consequence of sin. And Zola was an atheist!

Superb. November 2014; 194 pages

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