Why are all the tough letters at the end of the alphabet … when we are exhausted from a month’s worth of blog posts?!
Actually, Zola wasn’t a difficult choice. He is a revered Parisian novelist. I know because when I visited the Montmartre Cemetery, his grave was located in a prominent place.
When I wrote the first draft my Middle Grade novel (of course at that time I thought it was more YA in scope and researching more adult themes), I started to read L’Oeuvre (translation, The Masterpiece) which recreates the 19th Century art world. I thought it would help me understand the artists of the time period. I didn’t finish the book, however. Not because I didn’t enjoy it, but simply because there was not enough time.
I also started L’Assommoir, the story of a poor laundress who tries to escape her misery by drinking her life away. This story interested me because it closely followed the real-life story of Madame Van Goethem, the mother of the girl who posed for Degas’ famous statue, Little Dance of Fourteen Years. I have yet to finish that one as well…
The authors of this time period, Zola, Hugo, Baudelaire… as well as the artists, were interested in telling the stories of the common people. Life is not always warm and fuzzy, with happily-ever-after-endings. Life is complicated and oftentimes not fair.
But as they have shown the world through their art: even in the ashes we can find beauty.