Short summary - The ladies's paradise - Émile Zola

French literature summaries - 2021

Short summary - The ladies's paradise
Émile Zola

VERY BRIEF: A poor girl comes from the provinces to Paris. After going through hardships and hardships, she finds her happiness in marriage with a wealthy owner of a large store.

A still from the film "Ladies' Happiness" (2012)

After the death of his father Denise Bodiu with his brothers, sixteen-year-old Jean and five-year-old Pepo, are left without a livelihood. They come to Paris to see their uncle, a cloth merchant, Monsieur Baudu, and Denise, having experience as a saleswoman, counts on the promised help. Their attention is attracted by the huge and luxurious store "Ladies' Happiness".

Uncle can't help. "Ladies' happiness" ruins small shops, and trade is getting worse. He expects to marry his daughter Genevieve for Colomban's senior clerk, but the wedding is constantly being postponed.

The manufacturer Gojan persuades the assistant to the head of the silk department of Ladies' Happiness Robino to buy a fabric shop, offering a loan. Gojan believes that big shops dictate prices and ruin the country's industry, therefore he supports small shops.

Old man Burra, renting an umbrella shop near Ladies' Happiness, is terrified - the owner of the shop wants to buy a room. But until the lease expires, he will not be able to use it.

There are a lot of rumors around "Ladies' Happiness". The owner of the store, Jew Octave Mouret, handsome and ladies' man, having arrived in Paris, got married and became the owner of the store. His wife died in an accident. They say that it was Mure who killed his wife, and the store is built on her blood. Monsieur Bodiu is gloatingly awaiting the ruin of Mouret - he spends too much money on advertising and expansion. Interested in Denise's store, on the advice of Robineau, she decides to ask for a place as a shop assistant in the ready-to-wear department.

Arriving at the store after a stormy night, Octave Mouret gets to work. His assistant Bourdoncle, admiring the new system of payment for workers, laughs at the owner - there is a woman who will avenge everyone, but Mouret is not afraid of retribution. He orders to sell the new fabric cheaper than the competition - this will attract customers, and they will empty their wallets by buying another product.

A woman is unable to resist cheapness and even buys what she does not need, if only she is convinced that it is profitable.

Bourdoncle does not agree with the owner, but is silent. Mouret listens attentively to the complaints of employees, which he immediately forgets.

In the store, Denise is greeted with ridicule: an unprepossessing, poorly dressed provincial arouses contempt among Parisians. One of the sellers, Hutin, smiles at her affably, although he considers Denise a "goose." The girl is imbued with sympathy for him. Mouret feels a hidden charm and femininity in Denise, and her recommendations are excellent. To please the owner, Denise is hired.

Mouret's mistress, Madame Desforges, is arranging a dinner to which she invites her former lover, a major banker, whom Mouret is interested in meeting. At first, the banker does not want to give a loan, he considers the expansion of the store unpromising, but seeing how the assembled ladies ask Mouret about the goods, he agrees to the deal. Mouret triumphs: he owns women and no one owns him!

Paris belongs to women and women belong to us.

On the day of the big bazaar of winter novelties, Mure decorates the store with cheap oriental goods and lures customers. On this day, Denise starts work. At first, she must work at the table and a small room in the attic of the store and receive interest on the sale. With this money, she expects to support Jean and pay for the boarding house where Pepe will live. She is not allowed to sell, shoppers are beaten off and ordered to clean up her things.

At first the store is empty, but after lunch the number of customers increases. Madame Desforges meets Mouret with her friends in the ready-to-wear department. Denise puts on a cloak for the show, and they mock her: she does not shine with a figure, she is dressed and combed ridiculously. Bourdoncle is imbued with hostility to her and calls her "Rag." A saleswoman from a neighboring department, Polina, supports Denise, and a friendship begins between the girls, which has to be hidden due to the hostility of the departments.

Mouret rescues the largest amount in the entire history of the store. Stung by the taunts of Madame Desforges, he makes remarks to Denise. Having fun with her as with an animal, Mouret wants to see how she develops and dies in Paris.

For the sake of the brothers, Denise steadfastly endures all the hardships of work. Soon a beautiful saleswoman opens up in her, which makes everyone indignant. Jean, who comes to Denise to ask for money, is mistaken for her lover and mocked at the girl. Denise hardly pays for Pepe's upkeep, wears patched clothes and torn shoes, suffers from hunger and cold. Sympathetic Polina invites her to have a lover, as the other saleswomen do, but Denise does not like it. She notices that Colomban is courting Clara, a saleswoman in her department. Denise is not indifferent to Guten, who is only interested in tavern singers. Somehow she sees him in the company of singers, ranting about the availability of shop assistants. Deloche confesses his love to the girl, at the same time a salesman who joined her. A timid and shy young man considers himself a failure and is ready to love Denise faithfully and faithfully like a dog, without demanding reciprocity.

Mouret is surprised by the change in Denise.

She is so prettier, of course, because she has a lover. At this thought, it seemed to him that his beloved bird, with which he amused himself, to the point of blood, pecked him painfully.

Off-season enters and the store begins to lay off massively. Seeing Denise with Pepe, the ill-wishers decide that this is her child. Jean's adventures cause significant damage to Denise's budget, and Robineau finds her a part-time job. Bourdoncle is outraged - employees are strictly prohibited from spending energy on additional earnings. Mure stands up for the girl, because her brothers support her.

Zhaak again demands money, but Denise refuses him: she is unable to pay his expenses and support Pepe. She is accused of meeting her lover during working hours and is fired. Robineau is fired because of the intrigues of Guten, hoping to take his place. Mouret, upon learning of Denise's dismissal, is furious, but calms down, calculating the daily earnings.

Denise moves to Burra, who rents rooms to dubious persons. She cannot find any work other than daily work. Pepe now lives with her, as there is nothing to pay for the boarding house. Living in a block where you can get yourself a lover and put an end to poverty, Denise cannot step over herself and still thinks about Hutin.

Colomban asks Denise to bring him to Clara, but Denise is outraged that his feelings for a heartless, corrupt woman are causing Genevieve to suffer.

Mouret wants to expand the store and offers Burra good money for a house, but Burra refuses to sign a contract with him. Hating "Ladies' Happiness", he dreams of ruining Mouret. Denise is hired by Robineau, who has invested all his wife's money in a fabric shop. They pay her little, but they treat her like a family member. A struggle begins between Robineau's shop and Ladies' Happiness. Robineau advertises his product and decorates the shop window, but Mouret sells the product below cost, recouping the costs with other sales, and Robineau loses. Deniza believes that the future belongs to large stores, their prices are better for the buyer.

Mouret buys a mansion next to Burr's shop and increases the amount of money for the old man's premises. Burra tries to decorate the shop but cannot compete.

Having met Denise, Mouret apologizes to her for the gossip and offers to return to his store. Denise tells the surprised Moore that she is on the side of big stores and has some ideas. Before Mure's eyes, Denise turns into an exciting woman.

Mouret buys Burra's house and the old man rents a room from Mouret. Now Burra will not break the lease for any money. Mr. Bodiu also suffers losses, but does not give up. Colomban and Genevieve's wedding is postponed again. Genevieve confesses to Denise that she is dying, suffering from Colomban's betrayal.

Having bought the entire block, Mouret expands the store and builds a tunnel under the Burra store. Mr. Bodiu sells his country house, hoping for the proceeds to improve the situation. Things are getting worse for Robineau, and Denise decides to return to Moore. Upon learning of Mouret's relationship with Clara, Denise tells Colomban about this, but the young man in love does not listen to her.

Mouret dreams that a woman reigns in his store as at home. He opens new departments and a free buffet, gives gifts to children, introduces print ads, comes up with new methods of trading. To Denise's surprise, she is greeted respectfully. Mouret never ceases to show the girl signs of attention. Bourdoncle makes fun of the owner, but he says that the woman who will take possession of him has not yet been born.

Madame Desforges learns that Mouret has a relationship with a saleswoman from the ready-to-wear department. Her suspicions fall on Denise, and she comes to the store. Mocking the girl, Madame Desforges demands that she carry her purchases, and bring the purchased coat to her home.

Mouret appoints Denise as assistant head of the department. Guessing that the owner is not indifferent to her, she herself feels that he is not indifferent to her. Now Denise occupies a good room in the store's hostel and is no longer constrained in funds. Mouret invites her to dinner. Denise knows what is to come after him. She loves Mouret, but cannot accept such an invitation. Mouret confesses his love to Denise, promises to help the brothers, but Denise refuses with dignity. Upon learning of this, Hutin shows disdain for Denise, and she becomes ashamed of her recent feelings for him.

Waiting for Denise, Madame Desforges gathers friends for tea and invites Mouret. She knows that after Denise's refusal, Mouret got together with Clara, and spends the nights in revelry. Jealous Madame Desforge decides to take revenge. She scolds the goods of "Ladies' Happiness", gossips about the venality of saleswomen and exposes Denise to everyone's ridicule. Unable to bear it, Mouret calms the girl down, and Madame Desforges declares that she loves Denise. Madame Deforge decides, with the help of a banker, to open a store that will overshadow Lady's Happiness.

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suffering Mouret is no longer interested in the store, he thinks only of Denise. Why does he need all this wealth if Denise says no? Bourdoncle spreads rumors about Denise's love affair with Hutin and Deloche. Gossip reaches Mouret, and he reproaches Denise of immorality. Driven to despair, he is ready to kneel before her. Denise, suffering from love, confesses that she is in love, but does not say that with him.

The idea of becoming his mistress inspired her with horror, that insane horror that seizes a woman when a male approaches.

Mouret makes Denise the head of the new department. He often converses with her, listening to her ideas, which Robineau rejected. Under her influence, working conditions improve, even Bourdoncle and Hutin do not dare to harm her. Suffering more and more, Mouret begins to think about marriage.

"Lady's happiness" ruined Denise's uncle, Genevieve dies of consumption. Broken shopkeepers come to the funeral. In the person of Genevieve, they bury the entire quarter - the methods of new trade have won. Mouret proves to Denise that ruin was inevitable, he offered Burr a large sum, but he persisted. Denise persuades Moore to pay compensation to her uncle and Burr. Uncle's wife dies of grief. Burr's house collapses and he leaves, unwilling to accept help. Monsieur Bodiu prefers to live in an almshouse. Trying to commit suicide, Robineau breaks his legs.

Exhausted Denise decides to leave the store and leave for a month with his newly married Jean to rest. Mure tries to persuade her to stay, but imagining that she is going to her lover, lets go. Seeing the owner in tears, Bourdoncle sympathizes with him.

The day of the next opening in "Ladies' Happiness" is coming. A few weeks ago, there was a fire in Madame Desforges's new store, and now everyone is wondering what Mouret will do. Customers are again overwhelmed by the choice of products and the beauty of the shop windows. Unable to bear it, Madame Deforge comes with her friends. One of them, engulfed in spending, is caught stealing. Mouret conquered women again.

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cashier brings in revenue - a million, the amount of which Mouret dreamed for so long! He uses the last resort: he offers Denise to marry him. In horror, Denise refuses, she does not want to force her husband to support her brothers, although Mouret agrees to consider them his own. Mure desperately lets her go to the one she loves. Unable to bear it, Denise rushes into his arms and confesses his love. Forgetting about a million, happy Mouret tells Denise that he will come to her, and she will return with him as sovereign mistress.