Read by Leighton Pugh
Brutal, gripping and heart-wrenching, L’Assommoir (also known as The Drinking Den) chronicles the tragic downward spiral of Gervaise Macquart, a good-natured and hardworking laundress who slides into alcoholism and despair. After her lover abandons her and their two children, Gervaise marries a tin worker, Coupeau, who helps her rebuild her life. She starts her own business and the two have a daughter, Anna (the protagonist of Zola’s later novel, Nana). But their happiness is short-lived as a freak accident leaves Coupeau seriously injured, beginning the family’s fall into alcohol, desperation and violence. Disturbingly realistic, L’Assommoir is a vivid portrayal of life in late 19th-century Paris.
Running Time: 15 h 45 m
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Digital ISBN: 978-1-78198-226-6 Cat. no.: NA0352 Download size: 362 MB Produced by: Red Apple Creative Edited by: Red Apple Creative, London BISAC: FIC004000 BIC: FC Released: June 2019
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Leighton Pugh provides a meticulous performance of this tragic novel, embracing the drama of Zola’s details and immersing himself in the protagonist Gervaise’s misfortunes. Eking out a living as a laundress, Gervaise is derailed by the perils of drink – the book’s title is often translated to mean ‘The Drinking Den’ – and the horrors of poverty. Many scenes are drawn out to the extreme, and Pugh is patient with the details, devoting careful attention to subtle accents and a multitude of distinctive voices. Pugh is a bright light in a bleak story; his lively pace and capable delivery make this novel accessible. The question is whether the listener is prepared to take a look at such a sad life.