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Money (Les Rougon-Macquart #18)
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Readalongs > Money by Émile Zola (Gill, Laura and Jenny)

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message 1: by Gill (last edited Feb 21, 2016 11:15AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Gill | 5720 comments It's not long till March. When do you fancy starting this one? Any date is fine with me.


LauraT (laurata) | 13209 comments Mod
Whenever you want.
About the 10th of the month?


Gill | 5720 comments Fine with me, Laura. Let's see what Jenny says. Only 3 to go!


LauraT (laurata) | 13209 comments Mod
YES!
But I'm going to miss them!!!


Jenny (jeoblivion) | 4869 comments That's fine with me too!


Gill | 5720 comments Good, let's start on the 10th then.


LauraT (laurata) | 13209 comments Mod
Good!


Gill | 5720 comments I'm still on the first chapter. I think the subject matter could be interesting, but, as so often, Zola is attacking things head on. There's not much that is subtle about his writing!


Jenny (jeoblivion) | 4869 comments I will start tonight, thanks for the heads up Gill, I will strap on my Zola head. (Thou shalt not wish for subtlety, thou shalt not wish for subtlety, thou shalt not...)


LauraT (laurata) | 13209 comments Mod
Started yesterday and half way thriugh. I'm liking it, even if money matters - stock exchange, banks matters and similar are usualy too complicated for me to grasp them totally.
For instance I'm not so sure I've understood what they're doing wrong in outting up this new bank; but this is not what interests me most.
Again Zolà describes bad character, and how this is recognized by "honest" people (as Mme Caroline or her brother) but can't be challenged.
As if evil people charmed more than scared good people ...


message 11: by Jenny (last edited Mar 12, 2016 08:57AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Jenny (jeoblivion) | 4869 comments I thought I would have Zola read to me this time by some of Germany's finest actors which makes it an audio-play more than an audio book really. Now here's the thing: they've de-zolatized Zola potentially, in the sense that things are actually moving along fairly quickly, there's little to no occasional crude psychology and it is not necessarily subtle, but it's not hammering in the point either. I am liking this Zola A LOT, but I am not sure how much of it really is Zola. Interesting how much what he's describing could easily be transferred in our time today. Quite a few of his books could (thinking of The Belly of Paris as well, or others) Not the least bit bored by all the money talk, which I find surprising, but again: that could be because the book got a bit of a face lift and a belly tuck.


LauraT (laurata) | 13209 comments Mod
I so agree Janny!


message 13: by Gill (new) - rated it 4 stars

Gill | 5720 comments I'm up to the end of chapter 4 now. I'm finding the plot a bit more interesting and involved than I expected initially. I'm quite interested to see how the attempts to blackmail Saccard work out. I do like Madame Caroline as a character so far. Can anyone remember the previous story in the series that Saccard appeared in?


message 14: by Jenny (last edited Mar 13, 2016 07:19AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Jenny (jeoblivion) | 4869 comments Saccard is Aristide Rougon, the guy from The Kill. From Wikipedia: Following Eugene Rougon's rise to political power in Paris in La Fortune, his younger brother Aristide, featured in the first novel as a talentless journalist, a comic character unable to commit himself unequivocally to the imperial cause and thus left out in the cold when the rewards were being handed out, decides to follow Eugene to Paris to help himself to the wealth and power he now believes to be his birthright. Eugene promises to help Aristide achieve these things on the condition that he stay out of his way and change his surname to avoid the possibility of bad publicity from Aristide's escapades rubbing off on Eugene and damaging his political chances. Aristide chooses the surname Saccard .... He starts his speculative business there, he's probably one of the morally most crippled characters Zola's come up with.


message 15: by Gill (new) - rated it 4 stars

Gill | 5720 comments Oh, is Maxime, Saccard's son here in this book, the one who has sex with his step mother? I seem to remember them spending a lot of time travelling round Paris in a coach together.


Jenny (jeoblivion) | 4869 comments Yes, I believe so


LauraT (laurata) | 13209 comments Mod
I also had to look up in Wikipedia!!! These characters are all mixed up!!!
Madame Caroline is I think the best character in the book, even if she has her folws; but for love, nor greed or lust


message 18: by Gill (new) - rated it 4 stars

Gill | 5720 comments I'm halfway through now and I'm enjoying the storyline. I guess at the time the book was published, readers in France would understand all the historical background to it. That part of it is leaving me rather mystified.

Laura, you may be able to help me with one aspect of that? I don't understand all the concern about the Pope and Rome, and what is going to happen to the Pope, when the Italians reach Rome. I thought that Rome was in Italy. Is this something to do with the unification of Italy? So who was ruling Rome at the time of this book?
Here is an example of what I'm asking about:
'If you wish to keep Rome for the Pope, why do you seem to blame the hasty peace of Villiafranca? Venice given to Italy means the Italians in Rome within two years. '


message 19: by LauraT (last edited Mar 14, 2016 07:49AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

LauraT (laurata) | 13209 comments Mod
I was wondering if you could get that easily enough.
Rome was, of course, in Italy, but at that time Italy was, as you said, divided into several different states, the main of which were Piemonte on the north west - with Sardinia, Austria north east, several little Italian states, like Tuscany or Parma, Piacenza, Urbino, the Vatican State in the centre (where Perugia is), the Bourbons with the reign of Neaples and Sicily. There had been - more or less since the beginning of the century - different attempts to unify it, under different ideas: the Piemonte state under the Savoia family (the one that finally succeeded), a Republic (Mazzini, and Garibaldi at the beginning, supported this), a state under the Vatican rule and the Pope, and others.
In the end Vittorio Emanuele II with the help of Garibaldi and the silent approval of the French - who were strongly opposed to the Austrians - managed to unite the country in 1861 with the famous 1000 men landing in Sicily under Garibaldi. BUT Rome was not then in Italy: the French didn't want to lose the support of the Pope and therefore forbid the King and Garibaldi to enter the "Saint City".
Rome was annexed to the state and became its third capital (after Turin and Florence!) only in 1870. The Pope excommunicated all Italians voting for the Italian State (the, for us!, famous Non Expedit) until 1929 when they made an agreement with Benito Mussolini (Patti Lateranensi).
That is what they were referring into the book.
To get back to the story, I do agree with you Gill: I don’t quite follow all economic passages – I’ve asked my husband to read it and explain them to me!!!! – but I do enjoy the plot. In the end though, more than a denunciation against economical mechanisms, is an underlining of a personal folly. If Saccard would have stopped in time, all could have gone well.


message 20: by Gill (new) - rated it 4 stars

Gill | 5720 comments Thanks Laura. I think I've nearly got it! The bit I'm still not quite clear about is, between 1861 and 1870 who ruled Rome? Was it an independent state?

There were lots of exciting and interesting things happening in Europe at the time Zola was setting his books, weren't there?


LauraT (laurata) | 13209 comments Mod
Gill wrote: "Thanks Laura. I think I've nearly got it! The bit I'm still not quite clear about is, between 1861 and 1870 who ruled Rome? Was it an independent state?

There were lots of exciting and interestin..."


The Pope! As he had done all the years before for the whole Vatican State. You should come to Perugia a couple of days; I'd show you an example of what this rule meant for the subjects then -a part that you'd taste bread without salt, since the people from central Italy started using the minimum amount of salt not to pay a dear tax imposed on it: we couldn't pick it up from the sea as Gandhi did!!!


message 22: by Gill (new) - rated it 4 stars

Gill | 5720 comments Ah, I understand now. I hadn't made the connection that the Vatican State included all of Rome at that time. Thanks a lot, Laura.


message 23: by Gill (new) - rated it 4 stars

Gill | 5720 comments Very interesting re salt and bread. I'll try to organise myself to send you our Italy dates. We are now going to be mainly in Florence, with just a day in Rome.


LauraT (laurata) | 13209 comments Mod
Gill wrote: "Very interesting re salt and bread. I'll try to organise myself to send you our Italy dates. We are now going to be mainly in Florence, with just a day in Rome."

But if you're staying in Florence for some days, you could come to Perugia at least one day. It's not far and I'd love to tour you around my city!
Let me know as soon as you've got the dates


Jenny (jeoblivion) | 4869 comments Are you going to meet? Yay!!

Re the pope thing: thanks for the explanation Laura, I wasn't clear about that one either. Finished today and really liked it. Still puzzled as to whether I am really fit to rate the book though, as they've turned it into an extremely well executed audio play more or less, which is bound to differ from the book itself. Will wait for Gill to finish as well. I agree with you Laura, this man's folly is limitless.


message 26: by Gill (new) - rated it 4 stars

Gill | 5720 comments I'll be finished in a couple of days.

Yes, we are meeting in the autumn. I'm very excited!


LauraT (laurata) | 13209 comments Mod
I am as well!!!!


message 28: by Gill (new) - rated it 4 stars

Gill | 5720 comments I have one chapter to go. I'm hoping to be finished by bedtime!


message 29: by Gill (new) - rated it 4 stars

Gill | 5720 comments Okay, I'm finished now. I'll be interested to hear what you both thought about it. I gave it four stars, and enjoyed it much more than initially expected to.

Is this the first one in the series where characters have more nuances to them? For example some of the characters who in the past I think Zola would've made completely evil, in this novel seem to have some good sides to them. One of the examples I'm thinking of is Saccard, who despite all the other things he did bought toys for the children in the orphanage.

I've still got some other thoughts to get together about this. I should get round to putting them down in the next day or so.


LauraT (laurata) | 13209 comments Mod
Yes Gill, I do agree. Sachard is not so onesided as he could have been, and not only because, with his ill earned money, he makes sime good, but also because he does not really want to make bad things; they're sort of a "bad results" of his actions that he consider, at least in part, good.

And also his good characters, like Caroline, could have been better, could have stopped the ruin if only she dared more ...


message 31: by Gill (last edited Mar 18, 2016 05:51AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Gill | 5720 comments Some more thoughts.

Another character who had some good on him, was the one who was trying to blackmail people with old financial documents in order to get money out of them. I'm sorry, I've forgotten his name. He was so caring about his brother, and terribly terribly upset when he died. Zola showed what a human side he had to him.

I thought Caroline was a much more rounded character than Zola normally produces. She was very much in the middle of her brother and Saccard. It was hard for her to know what decisions to make wasn't it? I thought Zola really brought to life the time that they had spent in the East, and their aspirations for that area.

One of the strands right through this series is the importance of the railways and their development, and the impact it had on people. I find it hard to imagine living at a time like that where there is such a massive development. I wonder if there is something similar going on nowadays?

I like the way that Zola paired what was going on on the stock exchange with wars and battles, especially since this formed part of the backdrop for what was about to happen very soon to France.

Having said all the things I do like about this book, and the fact that it's more subtle than some of the Zola's other books, I still find him a bit heavy-handed. Have either of you read The Way We Live Now? I find that a much more sensitive depiction of a similar situation, and much more to my liking.


LauraT (laurata) | 13209 comments Mod
Gill wrote: "I like the way that Zola paired what was going on on the stock exchange with wars and battles, especially since this formed part of the backdrop for what was about to happen very soon to France.

Having said all the things I do like about this book, and the fact that it's more subtle than some of the Zola's other books, I still find him a bit heavy-handed. Have either of you read The Way We Live Now? I find that a much more sensitive depiction of a similar situation, and much more to my liking. "


Yes Gill, I do agree even if I didn't love that aprticular Trollope if compared to some other of his works. Probably the financial novels are not my "cup of tea"!!!


Jenny (jeoblivion) | 4869 comments I agree with you Gill, the characters are more nuanced, but I had that impression already with the last one, which I still prefer over this one I think. I've read The Way We Live Now years ago and though I didn't find Trollope particularly easy to read (I wasn't so used to reading English at the time) I think it's a much more subtle book. The more I read Zola the more I think he's a macro man by nature and possibly by choice as well. He's interested in the big picture - society as a whole, politics, industrialization - that focusing too much on the micro of individuals, on the nuances of a personality, on psychological non-straight-forwardness would be a hindrance to the plot almost, and to the point he's making. It doesn't necessarily have to be as other authors have proven, but I think it's not necessarily only an inability of his, it might just also simply not be of interest to him as an author.

I am curious were the last books will take us!


Jenny (jeoblivion) | 4869 comments Gill wrote: "One of the strands right through this series is the importance of the railways and their development, and the impact it had on people. I find it hard to imagine living at a time like that where there is such a massive development. I wonder if there is something similar going on nowadays?
"


Gill, I guess the digitalization of life would be one possible example for our time now, and possibly globalization, though I think the effects of it might be felt more in the places that now have turned into resource providers and manufacturers for the Western World and it's many many (assumed) needs.


message 35: by Gill (last edited Mar 21, 2016 11:12AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Gill | 5720 comments Jenny wrote: "I agree with you Gill, the characters are more nuanced, but I had that impression already with the last one, which I still prefer over this one I think. I've read The Way We Live Now years ago and ..."

Interesting what you say about maybe not being of interest to him as an author, Jenny. I'd not thought of that.

Yes, only two to go! We are now entering our 4th year!


LauraT (laurata) | 13209 comments Mod
Jenny wrote: "Gill wrote: "One of the strands right through this series is the importance of the railways and their development, and the impact it had on people. I find it hard to imagine living at a time like

Gill, I guess the digitalization of life would be one possible example for our time now, and possibly globalization, though I think the effects of it might be felt more in the places that now have turned into resource providers and manufacturers for the Western World and it's many many (assumed) needs. "


I was considering exactly the same. We are sort of used to travel fast, but now we get to information fast enough through the web. The problem is, sometimes at least, that it is ... "too much" information, you have to pick it up the right one,, or the one you really need


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