The Conquest of Plassans (Rougon-Macquart): The
Rougon family, in M. Zola's narrative, rises to fortune, and the town
of Plassans (really Aix-en-Provence) bows down before its power. But time
passes, the revolt of the clergy supervenes, by their influence the town
chooses a Royalist Marquis as deputy, and it becomes necessary to conquer
it once again.
Abbé Faujas, by whom this conquest is achieved on behalf
of the Empire, is a strongly conceived character, perhaps the most real
of all the priests that are scattered through M. Zola's books. No other
priestly creation of M. Zola's pen vie with the stern, chaste, authoritative,
ambitious Faujas, the man who subdues Plassans, and who wrecks the home
of the Mouret family, with whom he lives. The book largely deals with
the matter of 'the priest in the house, ' and towards the end of the volume
Mouret, the husband who has been driven mad and shut up in a lunatic asylum,
returns home and wreaks the most terrible vengeance upon those who have
The pages which deal with the madman's escape and his
horrible revenge are certainly among the most powerful that M. Zola has
ever written, and have been commended for their effectiveness by several
of his leading critics.
(Ernest Alfred Vizetelly)
More info about the Rougon-Macquart series at Wikipedia.