Saturday 4 February 2023

Book Review: The Conquest of Plassans by Emile Zola (Classics)

Title: The Conquest of Plassans
Author: Emile Zola
Publisher: Oxford World Classics
Publication Date: 2014 (1874)
Pages: 307
Format: Paperback
Genre: Classics
Source: Xmas Gift

'Abbe Faujas has arrived!'
The arrival of Abbe Faujas in the provincial town of Plassans has profound consequences for the community, and for the family of Francois Mouret in particular. Faujas and his mother come to lodge with Francois, his wife Marthe, and their three children, and Marthe quickly falls under the influence of the priest. Ambitious and unscrupulous, Faujas gradually infiltrates into all quarters of the town, intent on political as well as religious conquest. Intrigue, slander, and insinuation tear the townsfolk apart, creating suspicion and distrust, and driving the Mourets to ever more extreme actions.
The fourth novel in Zola's Rougon-Macquart sequence, The Conquest of Plassans returns to the fictional Provencal town from which the family sprang in The Fortune of the Rougons. In one of the most psychological of his novels, Zola links small-town politics to the greater political and national dramas of the Second Empire.


The Conquest of Plassans was a fun continuation of the Rougon-Macquart series. It was delightful to watch the effect the arrival of Abbe Faujas had on the community in Plassans and how things slowly began to change before spiralling out of control. As the blurb states, it's a much more psychological piece than the preceding volumes, but it was still easy, gentle reading throughout and contained many memorable and well-drawn characters. It gets 4.5 stars from me.

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