Classics Club Spin #31: The result

The result of the latest Classics Club Spin was revealed today.

The idea of the Spin was to list twenty books from my Classics Club list, number them 1 to 20, and the number announced by the Classics Club represents the book I have to read before 30th October 2022. The number that has been selected is…


And this means the book I need to read is…

The Fortune of the Rougons by Émile Zola

The Fortune of the Rougons is the first in Zola’s famous Rougon-Macquart series of novels. In it we learn how the two branches of the family came about, and the origins of the hereditary weaknesses passed down the generations. Murder, treachery, and greed are the keynotes, and just as the Empire was established through violence, the “fortune” of the Rougons is paid for in blood.

Set in the fictitious Provencal town of Plassans, The Fortune of the Rougons tells the story of Silvere and Miette, two idealistic young supporters of the republican resistance to Louis-Napoleon Bonaparte’s coup d’etat of December 1851. They join the woodcutters and peasants of the Var to seize control of Plassans, and are opposed by the Bonapartist loyalists led by Silvere’s uncle, Pierre Rougon. Meanwhile, the foundations of the Rougon family and its illegitimate Macquart branch are being laid in the brutal beginnings of the Imperial regime.


I’m happy with this as I’ve read very little by Zola and would like to read more. I originally had Germinal on my Classics Club list but found it difficult to get into, so decided to replace it with this one. It’s the first in the Rougon-Macquart series and my edition is translated by Brian Nelson.

Have you read this? If you took part in the Spin, are you pleased with your result?

17 thoughts on “Classics Club Spin #31: The result

  1. jekc says:

    Hope you enjoy it and the story of the Rougons carries you through the series. I know from my limited experience that Zola’s books can be engrossing and heavy going by turns. Hopefully this will be the former. It’s certainly an interesting period in French history and culture.

      • jekc says:

        One of the novels in the series, ‘The Masterpiece’ is based on the art world of the time and makes use of his friendship with several of the French Impressionist painters. I’ve got the book but feel I should read the series in order as you are doing!

    • Helen says:

      Thank you! I’ve already read one of the later books in the series, but going back to the beginning and working through them in order seemed like a good idea.

  2. BookerTalk says:

    I’d read a few of Zola’s novels (including Germinal) before I decided to go back to the beginning and read this one. It doesn’t have as much drama as some of the later ones but it’s really key to understanding the whole series and how the fortunes of the two sides of the family separate

      • BookerTalk says:

        I think I’d read about five before deciding to begin at the beginning. Some can be read as stand alones – like the Ladies Paradise I think but it helps to also know the background

    • Helen says:

      I’ve enjoyed the few books I’ve read by Zola so far (apart from Germinal, which I think was just the wrong book at the wrong time). He’s definitely worth adding to your next list!

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