Encapsulating, with atypically, luxurious detail, the phenomenon of consumer society, obsessed with image, fashion and instant gratification, "The Ladies Delight" depicts the beginnings of capitalist economy through the mechanism of a new economic entity: the department store. The novel tells the story of the young Denise who is seeking work in Paris, and, Octave Mouret, the aspirational director of the shopping emporium, who exploits his power to manipulate the desire his refined merchandise arouses in his female consumers. Set in the heart of the city, Zola's novel evokes the giddy pace of Paris' transition into a modern city and the changes in sexual attitudes and class relations taking place at the end of the century. "The Ladies' Delight", the eleventh in the twenty part "Les Rougon-Maquart" series, is an exquisite example of Zola's acclaimed naturalism and re-affirms his position as one of the most politically aware and socially observant writers of all time.
Emile Zola (1840 - 1902) is the most important exponent of the literary school of Naturalism in France and a major figure in world literature.