Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Kindred Spirits?

It is interesting that I have picked up Thérèse Raquin to read after Madam Bovary. Only a few chapters in, there are similarities with their disillusionment with life. Madam Bovary turned to adultery, and retail therapy (which eventually sent Charles broke) but Thérèse will turn to murder……

Poor Charles, Homais the apothecary (whose arsenic Emma had deliberately ingested) and close friend of Charles became distant as the gap in their social status widened. Charles was broke, he found out about the lovers and eventually died from a broken heart. Bovary’s daughter Berthe was farmed out to relatives and eventually went to work in a cotton mill. Her life could have been so different, poor kid!

Thérèse on the other hand lost her mother when she was very young, and was left with her aunt by her father who eventually died overseas. Living with her overbearing aunt and her sickly cousin in a cloying atmosphere she finds herself stifled, unable to run free and happy. It is always expected that she will marry her cousin Camille, even though they have no feelings for each other, and her life after marriage remains the same except that she now sleeps on the right side of their home instead of the left.

Camille decides one day that they will move to Paris, and his mother insists on making all the arrangements so that she can ensure her own future. She purchases a dowdy haberdashery shop in a dingy Arcade in Paris. When Therese moves in she is dismayed, and turns inward into herself. She has no interest in re-papering the rooms above the shop or to look for new carpet, she has completely given up…… until one day when Camille brings home Laurent, a work colleague, for dinner. Feeling the fluttering of attraction, Therese is always present when Laurent visits after work to paint Camille's portrait. Finally, when the portrait is finished, Camille goes out to buy Champagne and her Aunt/Mother-in-law goes to prepare dinner, and they find themselves alone. Thérèse gives herself to Laurent totally.

That’s as far as I have got, and loving how it is written. There’s more narration than dialogue so far, but the oppressiveness of the shop, the dingy Arcade and Thérèse's life are very well described. This one is on the list which is a bonus.

I finished Heart Shaped Box finally, and the worse thing was that my mind started wandering at the end, and when I realised it had finished (it was on audio) I had to go back a whole chapter and listen to it again! Talk about prolonging the agony!!

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