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TO LIVE OUT LOUD:
I found this book fascinating; not only for the content itself, but also for the way it is written. The story of injustice and bigotry from the 19th century has tenets that ring true even today. When an entire race or religion is dehumanized by unscrupulous government leaders, and sensation-seeking journalist can sway public opinion with lies and propaganda, truth and justice are often the victims.
Edmund Burke once said, “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.”
The story of how Emile Zola risked his reputation, his freedom, and even his life to shed light on a huge injustice is inspiring. This book, written as a narrative from someone closely involved with Zola, pulls the reader in from the very first pages. I found it a refreshing treatment of a dark time in history, and I am anxious to read more from this talented author.
This novel is a rare beast: at once an entirely factual account of a historical event, edifying and intriguing, and a richly moving piece of fiction that brings its characters to life in wonderful exchanges and passages of naturalist prose.
One of the things that delighted me most was the subtle way in which Paulette Mahurin brought out the characters and made them empathetic: big changes like Zola’s travels are treated with deft descriptions, but the change in timbre of his voice, the movement of his hand, these little nuances make him a truly elegantly drawn character. I loved the elegiac relationships, and the melancholy descriptions of Dreyfus, whose character brings such gravitas to the book.
Without spoiling the novel, the story is an extraordinary one on a terrible miscarriage of justice, with a terrible story of anti-Semitism brought to the fore. This is a must-read novel for anyone interested in Zola, historical fiction, and those who wish to learn more about a dark passage in history, and is written in a graceful, natural style befitting a novel about Emile Zola, the ideological hero of the story.
The story begins in the late 19th century, when Dreyfus is sentenced for passing France’s secrets to Germany. It was so interesting to read about the build up of tension between the countries in parallel to the tension the individual characters experienced. The sentenced man is Jewish and at this time, this sadly created even more distrust towards him, and probably encouraged public mistrust. Dreyfus’ case quickly garners quite a bit of attention, and evidence of his innocence surfaces. However, the army is not willing to accept any guilt in the unlawful jailing of the man, and sends him overseas to a penal colony of sorts.
The story is about more than Dreyfus, however, it is also the tale of the writer, Emile Zola, who is wrapped up in it, and faces a libel case. I was not previously familiar with Zola’s J’accuse letter, but this story has certainly encouraged me to research the case even further. Zola’s stance against anti-semitism in France and his questioning of the use/abuse of legal powers of the state are important and really serve to paint a picture of the man. Mahurin, however, does not make him or anyone out to be one-dimensionally heroic or villainous. Zola has a mistress, as well as a wife – something that seemed to be relatively acceptable at the time, but when it comes down to it, he stays very true to his ideals, even sacrificing a promising career. Zola’s insistence of fair-trials and treatment of prisoners, as well as religious freedom, emphasize the way of thinking of a respected, enlightened Frenchman at this time. I also liked his quotes, which appear at the start of each chapter.
For such a short read, I feel it explored this story with great depth and an elegant language.
I look forward to reading more about this subject and by this author!
I was completely oblivious to the plight of Emile Zola, but I love a good historical fiction.
This book certainly delivers that and left me with a growing curiosity of the story behind this book, of which I will certainly be following up on. The author tells the story in a strong and engaging fashion, and you are quickly drawn into Zola’s passion and courage and his indignation as misjustice.
Sara, a nurse practitioner is dealing with a grim cancer prognosis after having a double mastectomy and enduring chemotherapy. When offered the chance to be on a new drug trial, she jumps at the opportunity. Her decision leads her to Ben, a NASA lawyer and pancreatic cancer patient who although facing a terminal prognosis changes her life.
Their relationship blossoms and they help each other to confront dysfunctional family relationships to reach a positive place in their lives. Sara and Ben discover common intellectual and philosophical interests to give each other incredible strength and support.
Although this is a tragic story, the author manages to convey the hope, love and happiness the couple find in their relationship. Despite the tragedy, it overwhelmingly leaves you with its uplifting and positive message that love can conquer all.