|This cover of this edition of The Ladies' Paradise|
by Emil Zola features a scene from the BBC
adaptation, which I didn't see. The book is excellent.
“Hanging from above were pieces of woollen and cloth goods, merinoes, cheviots, and tweeds, floating like flags; the neutral, slate, navy-blue, and olive-green tints being relieved by the large white price-tickets. Close by, round the doorway, were hanging strips of fur, narrow bands for dress trimmings, fine Siberian squirrel-skin, spotless snowy swansdown, rabbit-skin imitation ermine and imitation sable. Below, on shelves and on tables, amidst a pile of remnants, appeared an immense quantity of hosiery almost given away knitted woollen gloves, neckerchiefs, women’s hoods, waistcoats, a winter show in all colors, striped, dyed, and variegated, with here and there a flaming patch of red. Denise saw some tartan at nine sous, some strips of American vison at a franc, and some mittens at five sous. There appeared to be an immense clearance sale going on; the establishment seemed bursting with goods, blocking up the pavement with the surplus.”
|Le Bon Marche, the iconic French department store|
may have been the inspiration for The Ladies Paradise.
Denise finds work in the ready-made section of the store, where she is ostracised by the other women because she is plain, small (she is described as being 'puny' and a 'bag of bones'), and poorly dressed. They are also annoyed because the boss of the store has taken an interest in her. She perseveres, scrimping and saving so she can looking after her brothers - especially Jean, who is a charming, feckless womaniser, always in need of cash to get himself out of a scrape. Eventually, though no fault of her own, she loses the job, but gets it back later. She is very naive, and it takes her a while to realise Octave Mouret (the man in charge) has more than a passing interesting interest in her, and even longer to realise she is in love with him.
|Denise and her brothers arrive at their Uncle Baudu's |
shop and home. (Pic from 1886 edition on Poject Gutenberg)
|Inside Le Bon Marche, The interior of The Ladies' Paradise|
must have look much the same. (Pic: Wikipedia)