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Download The Belly of Paris Audiobook

Extended Audio Sample The Belly of Paris, by Émile Zola Click for printable size audiobook cover
3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 3.00 (1,102 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Émile Zola Narrator: Frederick Davidson Publisher: Blackstone Audio Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Related: The Rougon-Macquart Cycle Release Date:
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Although it is little known in this country, The Belly of Paris is considered one of Émile Zola’s best novels. Set in the newly built food markets of Paris, it is a story of wealth and poverty set against a sumptuous banquet of food and commerce.

Having just escaped from prison after being wrongfully accused, young Florent arrives at Paris’ food market, Les Halles, half starved, surrounded by all he can’t have, and indignant at his world, which he now knows to be unjust. He finds that the city’s working classes have been displaced to make way for bigger streets and bourgeois living quarters, so he settles in with his brother’s family. Gradually, he takes up with the local socialists, who are more at home in bars than on the revolutionary streets. Slowly, the ever-widening gap between the rich and the poor drags the city to the breaking point.

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Quotes & Awards

  • “[The novel’s] descriptions of cuisine…are notable for their length, detail, and humor.”

    Washington Post

  • “One of Zola’s own favorites, [The Belly of Paris] is a brilliant exposition of one man’s fragmentation and an often painful indictment of those who live innocent of infamy or praise.”

    Publishers Weekly

Listener Opinions

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 by Jennifer | 2/9/2014

    " Excellent view of les Halles market in 1860's Paris. A book I wish could go on & on. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 by Sarah | 2/3/2014

    " While I am glad to have read an Emile Zola novel (admittedly my first from beginning to end), The Belly of Paris is not - at least in my opinion - one of the best food books ever. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 by Larry | 2/2/2014

    " OK, but not one of Zola's best. Personal and political intrigue set in Les Halles market in Paris in the 1850s. Zola is obsessed with providing very detailed descriptions of the look and smell of various foods. At one point, the story grinds to a halt while he devotes two pages to descibing the smells of various cheeses. But...Zola does immerse you in the life of ordinary people in that historic era, which makes it an interesting read. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 by Mike Smith | 1/28/2014

    " The Belly of Paris contains many excellent literary images of Paris in the late 1850s: The action, such as it is, takes place between 1858 and 1859, mostly in the market area of Les Halles. Zola created many three-dimensional characters, but marooned them in a lame plot with a weak, predictable climax. If you enjoy excellent prose - there's a reason we're still reading Zola in the 21st century - and don't demand slam-bang action on every page, try The Belly of Paris. You'll learn a lot about what it was like being a working-class citizen (some might say a peasant) in the city back in the times of Napoleon III. Just don't expect excitement. "

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