One of Zola's better novels. Surprisingly, it has a happy(ish) ending, which, although not normal for Zola, works well. It concerns consumerism and is about the first real department store in Paris. The store exploits its workers, although the grimness of Germinal, is not there. In some ways it is a bit more moderate than Zola's normal attacks on capitalism. While it illustrates in great detail the destruction of small shop-keepers and the exploitation of workers by the new store. Zola does also illustrate some of the better results of the store. All in all, it is much more moderate than one would normally expect with a Zola novel. That's neither here nor there, but it makes for a bit of a change, I found the writing itself very enjoyable. Overall, worth reading, but L'Assomoire and Germinal are still his best novels.