Helene Grandjean, an attractive young widow, lives a secluded life in Paris with her only child, Jeanne. Jeanne is a delicate and nervous girl who jealously guards her mother's affections. When Jeanne falls ill, she is attended by Dr Deberle, whose growing admiration for Helene gradually turns into mutual passion. Deberle's wife Juliette, meanwhile, flirts with a shallow admirer, and Helene, intent on preventing her adultery, precipitates a crisis whose consequences are far-reaching. Jeanne realizes she has a rival for Helene's devotion in the doctor, and begins to exercise a tyrannous hold over her mother.
The eighth novel in Zola's celebrated Rougon-Macquart series, A Love Story is an intense psychological and nuanced portrayal of love's different guises. Zola's study extends most notably to the city of Paris itself, whose shifting moods reflect Helene's emotional turmoil in passages of extraordinary lyrical description.
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There's so much to love and admire about this novel, which has rarely appeared in an English translation. * Harriet Devine, Shiny New Books * A Love Story was such a joy to read... This is the type of book I would like to leisurely read while sitting in a Paris cafe, maybe that is how I will re-read A Love Story. * Michael Kitto, Knowledge Lost *