Short summary - Pot-Bouille - Émile Zola

French literature summaries - 2021

Short summary - Pot-Bouille
Émile Zola

Micro-narrative: Enterprising, intelligent, cynical and disarmingly charming provincial Octave Mouret comes to Paris to pursue a career in trade. Soon he was named the poet of ladies' clothes, and he successfully combines his quick promotion with the “collecting” of women, mostly married, easily seducing one after another ...

Twenty-two-year-old Octave Mouret moves into an apartment building. He works in a small fashion house called Ladies' Happiness. Octave is a handsome young man with an excellent sense of humor, therefore he is popular with the ladies living in the house, and especially with Madame Pichon. Octave's attempts to get close to his boss, Madame Gedouin, fail, and he quits.

He finds a new job in a silk shop with Auguste Vabray, who lives on the first floor of the building. Octave begins courting his wife, Madame Bertha, and this continues for several months. In the end, Auguste catches both of them. A scandal breaks out, Octave resigns again and returns to "Ladies' Happiness". His further fate is reflected in the novel "Ladies' Happiness".

Apparent decency in a tenement house is only outwardly. Its tenants have romance with each other. One marriage was made for financial reasons, as a result of which the groom is cheated with a dowry. Servants speak ill of their masters.

When the lawyer Duverdi seriously injures himself while trying to commit suicide, his wife does not try to cure him, but tries to hush up the scandal. A lonely pregnant spinner is driven out into the street. The sinister tenant, who visits his apartment only once a week to "work", is tolerated until it turns out that he is dating his mistress in the apartment.