207. DRINK . EMILE ZOLA
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Drink (L’Assommoir) is the seventh novel in Émile Zola’s twenty-volume series Les Rougon-Macquart. Usually considered one of Zola’s masterpieces, the novel—a study of alcoholism and poverty in the working-class districts of Paris—was a huge commercial success and helped establish Zola’s fame and reputation throughout France and the world.
The novel is principally the story of Gervaise Macquart, running away to Paris with her shiftless lover Lantier to work as a washerwoman in a hot, busy laundry in one of the seedier areas of the city.Lantier, takes off for parts unknown with another woman. Though at first she swears off men altogether, eventually she gives in to the advances of Coupeau, a teetotal roofing engineer, and they are married. Through a combination of happy circumstances, Gervaise is able to realise her dream and raise enough money to open her own laundry. The couple’s happiness appears to be complete with the birth of a daughter, Anna, nicknamed Nana (the protagonist of Zola’s later novel of the same title).