- Author Émile Zola
Having enjoyed the TV show The Paradise, I bought the book that started it all but it took me a long time to get round to reading it. Once I got into it, I really enjoyed it, although I thought it was a story of two halves that didn’t quite seem to connect. The first part is all about the struggle that is had outside the department store, by the independent shop owners and Denise herself when she is dismissed. The second part is all love story, with barely a reference to the economy at all.
I liked it anyway, an atmospheric tale with great characters and a very strong female protagonist. It’s a story that also resonates at the moment, with the death of the high street compounded by the growing supermarkets and out-of-town shopping centres. I thought the ending was quite abrupt, it sort of stopped just before the happily ever after bit, but it was still worth getting there.