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by Emile Zola
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This final volume in Zola's twenty-book Rougon-Macquart cycle serves in many respects as an epilogue to the series -- but it's also a fine tale in its own right. Doctor Pascal, approaching old age, looks back on his life and finds himself asking whether he has made the right choices . . . and the answers he finds aren't always what you'd expect. Those who enjoy Zola's better-known novels will find much to appreciate here as well.
It was a new hell. There were no more violent quarrels between Pascal and Clotilde. The doors were no longer slammed. Voices raised in dispute no longer obliged Martine to go continually upstairs to listen outside the door. They scarcely spoke to each other now; and not a single word had been exchanged between them regarding the midnight scene, although weeks had passed since it had taken place. He, through an inexplicable scruple, a strange delicacy of which he was not himself conscious, did not wish to renew the conversation, and to demand the answer which he expected--a promise of faith in him and of submission.
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