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Publisher's Summary

Glenda Jackson stars in this award-winning BBC Radio series, inspired by literature's greatest ever whistleblower, Émile Zola, and his epic saga of the Rougon-Macquart family.

First published between 1870 and 1893, Émile Zola’s 20-book cycle chronicling four generations of the Rougon-Macquarts, was a shocking exposé of the decadence, degradation, and moral decay of 19th-century France. It included some of his greatest novels, among them his masterpiece, Germinal.

These innovative, ambitious dramas, first broadcast on Radio 4 over 24 hours in 2015-16, is a radical reimagining of Zola’s classic series, introducing us to 104-year-old matriarch, Dide, imprisoned in an asylum in southern France. Trapped, but omniscient, she broods over her ‘family of wolves’. As a young woman, she gave birth to two dynasties that exemplified French society. One legitimate – rich, powerful, obsessive and corrupt. The other illegitimate – poor, vulnerable, weak and depraved.

In these three seasons, themed around blood, sex and money, we come to know the members of her extended family intimately – the good, the bad and the misguided. As we follow their highs and lows, we are taken deep into the heart of France’s ‘Second Empire’, and drawn into the tragic, farcical reign of Napoleon III, as it marches forward towards a modern, industrialised society.

This groundbreaking series won Best Drama at the BBC Radio and Music Awards 2016, and Best Adaptation at the BBC Audio Drama Awards 2017, and boasts a star cast including Robert Lindsay, Julie Hesmondhalgh, Holliday Grainger, Samuel West, Anna Maxwell Martin, Paul McGann, Georgina Campbell, Jack Lowden and Alison Steadman.

Also included is a 30-minute bonus programme, The Life and Work of Émile Zola, in which Glenda Jackson travels to Paris to discover how Zola’s experience and the physical and cultural landscape in which he lived influenced his great novels.

Written by Émile Zola

Dramatised by Dan Rebellato, Oliver Emanuel, Martin Jameson and Lavinia Murray

Produced and directed by Pauline Harris, Polly Thomas, Kirsty Williams, Nadia Molinari and Gary Brown

Executive Producer: Melanie Harris

Series Producer: Susan Roberts

Sound designer: Eloise Whitmore

©2019 BBC Worldwide Ltd (P)2019 BBC Worldwide Ltd

Critic Reviews

"Unmissable." (Daily Telegraph)

What listeners say about Blood, Sex and Money

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Addictive, Edifying Fun - Truly Outstanding

I cannot recommend this series highly enough. The dramatizations are tautly written, convincingly performed, and just spellbinding, really. It dramatizes the twenty novels that constitute Zola's Les Rougon-Macquart series, his masterwork, and these performances got me so interested that, in the month since listening, I've already read three of the original novels and plan to read more.

To assist those interested and those who are in the midst of listening, here is my overview of which chapters present which of Zola's novels.

Part 1: Blood
Ch. 1 / Ep. 1: Animals / based on Zola's The Fortune of the Rougons
Ch. 2 / Ep. 2: Fire / based on Zola's The Conquest of Plassans
Ch. 3 / Ep. 3: Food / based on Zola's The Belly of Paris
Ch. 4 / Ep. 4: Politics / based on Zola's His Excellency Eugène Rougon part 1
Ch. 5 / Ep. 5: Drink / based on Zola's L'Assommoir
Ch. 6 / Ep. 6: Art / based on Zola's The Masterpiece part 1
Ch. 7 / Ep. 7: Masterpiece / based on Zola's The Masterpiece part 2
Ch. 8 / Ep. 8: Fury / based on Zola's La Bête humaine part 1
Ch. 9 / Ep. 9: Trains / based on Zola's La Bête humaine part 2

Part 2: Sex
Ch. 10 / Ep. 1 Performance / based on Zola's Nana part 1
Ch. 11 / Ep. 2 Power / based on Zola's His Excellency Eugène Rougon part 2
Ch. 12 / Ep. 3 Family / based on Zola's The Kill
Ch. 13 / Ep. 4 Lovesick / based on Zola's The Dream
Ch. 14 / Ep. 5 Innocence / based on Zola's The Sin of Father Mouret
Ch. 15 / Ep. 6 Jealousy / based on Zola's A Love Episode
Ch. 16 / Ep. 7 Affairs / based on Zola's Pot-Bouille
Ch. 17 / Ep. 8 Lust / based on Zola's The Ladies Paradise
Ch. 18 / Ep. 9 Flesh / based on Zola's Nana part 2

Part 3: Money
Ch. 19 / Ep. 1 Crash / based on Zola's Money
Ch. 20 / Ep. 2 Massacre / based on Zola's Germinal part 1
Ch. 21 / Ep. 3 Trapped / based on Zola's Germinal part 2
Ch. 22 / Ep. 4 Swindle / based on Zola's The Bright Side of Life
Ch. 23 / Ep. 5 Inheritance / based on Zola's The Earth part 1
Ch. 24 / Ep. 6 Reap / based on Zola's The Earth part 2
Ch. 25 / Ep. 7 Fate / based on Zola's La Débâcle part 1
Ch. 26 / Ep. 8 Apocalypse / based on Zola's La Débâcle part 2
Ch. 27 / Ep. 9 Ghosts / based on Zola's Doctor Pascal

Unfortunately, it does not actually include the "30-minute bonus programme, The Life and Work of Émile Zola," though the product description would lead you to believe otherwise.

8 people found this helpful

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Blood, Sex and Money was stupendous

A truly wonderful listen. Glenda Jackson was a joy to listen to as well. Now to find my next Emile Zola listen.

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  • Pamela
  • 05-04-20

Glenda Jackson at her finest.

First, let me say that the performances in this are excellent and happily the listener is spared the usual trope of if it was written in French then everyone needs to play it with a cringey fake accent. Glenda Jackson takes the central role that carries all the way through the saga. And she flawlessly captures the part of the matriarch that sees the lives of the future generations. I don’t want to spoil any listening and therefore I’ll leave the description of the stories there. I feel it needs to be mentioned however that there are some dark tales here and is not a cozy listen. Once aware of that and the social commentary of the times that is harsh it is possible to enjoy a masterpiece.

6 people found this helpful

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  • Alice
  • 04-03-20

Love this

Fantastic audio performance! Perfect for the lockdown!!! An excellent adaption of the classic books that I love!

5 people found this helpful

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  • Archieblackcat
  • 09-29-19

Excellent Stellar Cast

Epic Zola brilliantly dramatised and performed with excellent performances including Glenda Jackson as Aunt Dide - grim and funny at times.

5 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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  • rj
  • 12-30-20

Excellent

Incessantly miserable but listenable. Like a painful itch that you shouldn't scratch but must carry on scratching. Is it a BBC adaption? I can't remember, seems like it due to the quality of the delivery. Not dated. Great collection of stories.

1 person found this helpful

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  • 007row
  • 07-24-21

Outstanding!

An absolutely first class dramatisation of Emile Zola. A truly gripping tale from beginning to end. Superb!

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Amazon Customer
  • 07-20-21

Fantastic!!

This series was amazing I was hooked from the first story to the end. Would highly recommend. It's heartbreaking, emotional but also has it's lighter moments as well.

(I did download the Family Trees to help me follow who the characters were and how they were all interrelated. That was helpful as sometimes it was a little confusing. Good versions on the BBC website for the series)

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  • Paddy Killary ( killary45@aol.com)
  • 07-02-21

Impressive, but don't expect a happy ending

Brilliant dramatisation, very informative about French history, great characters but in the end sad.

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  • Lauri Sim
  • 05-28-21

Amazing

An incredible production of Emile Zola’s epic Rougon-Macquart cycle. Glenda Jackson is a tor de force as matriarch DiDe and family member is outstandingly cast and played.

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  • Janet Record
  • 03-05-21

Epic Emile Zola story brought to life

This is a fantastic dramatisation of an epic family story. If you like Les Miserables then you will enjoy this story. The acting is fantastic and although the story has many chapters it kept me entertained all the way through. I had not read anything by Emile Zola before so cannot compare the dramatisation to a reading of the book but this is fantastic. I loved Glenda Jackson as the narrator Aunt Didi and in fact all of the cast were brilliant. There is plenty of tragic tales throughout which was sometimes hard to listen to because of the saddening cruelty of some of the characters but truly an epic tale of humanity.

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  • Magnus Macdonald
  • 03-01-21

Fantastic

Wonderfull interpretation of my favourite series could have been twice as long. Thank God Glenda Jackson came back from the dark side (politics)