"Be careful what you wish for" would make a better title for this book.
I was wondering why Kate Winslet chose this book, published in 1865, to narrate. I now understand that the movie version is due out in 2013. Kate Winslet was attached for a long time to star in the lead role. Then Eva Green replaced her with Gerard Butler as Laurent. In the fall of 2011, Elisabeth Olsen was announced as a replacement in the lead role with Glenn Close as Madame Raquin and Tom Felton. This book has been adapted on film many times and in several languages, going as far back as a silent film adaptation in 1915. That must have been interesting. I'm really looking forward to Glenn Close's eyes burning into Thérèse after Madame Raquin becomes mute and learns the truth.
The French author, Emile Zola, intended to study temperaments and not characters. His main characters were assigned various humors according to Galen's Four Temperaments: Thérèse is melancholic, Laurent is sanguine, and Camille is phlegmatic. The characters are often given animalistic tendencies, every one of them almost entirely consumed by self-interest. Thérèse and Laurent are often rightly described as brutes.
I don't generally finish a book in which I don't actually like ANY of the characters. After all, why should I spend time with them if I don't like them? But Kate Winslet's excellent narration kept holding my attention until I began to understand and better appreciate the story. I'm glad I listened to it, and I can now see its significance and influence on other later works of literature. Stick with it to the end and you'll appreciate the overall story and the style of writing as well. It must have been amazing when they performed this on stage in an opera, which lends itself so well to the drama. An interesting story on many levels.
Report Inappropriate Content