The Dream, by Émile Zola

30655918In this book we meet Angelique, an orphan girl that escaped from a foster home where she was victim of violence. She’s found on the stairs of a cathedral by the Huberts, who are masters embroiderers and work and live next to the building. They decide to take care of her and teach her the art of embroidery. Angelique is a very tempestuous child, she has quite a temper and experiences serious mood swings. As long as she grows older, she manages to control herself. Eventually, the Huberts grow very fond of her and adopt her as her own, because they’re childless. Before the official adoption, Mr. Hubert travels to Paris to investigate Angelique’s origins. That’s how we found out that she’s Sidonie Rougon’s daughter. Sidonie is Eugène and Aristide’s sister, an unfeeling, cold, dry woman incapable of love. She is a professional procuress, a seller of “anything and everything”, and plays an important part in The Kill.

Angelique becomes into a magnificent embroiderer, and she gets fascinated by the saints and martyrs tales. She dreams to be saved by a handsome prince and to live happily ever after, and believes her dream came true when she met Félicien, a very handsome boy who introduces himself as an artisan, just like she and the Huberts, but he’s actually the heir of an old family of knights, heroes, and nobles.

Unlike the other books, who are filled with historical background, this story seemed to me completely out of time. Because of the strongly religious influence and context, Huberts’ artisanal life, Angelique’s dreams, and the landscapes and surroundings described, I felt it like a medieval tale.

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