By Jules and Edmond de Goncourt.
This novel is an ever escalating catalog of misfortune a la L’Assommoir by Zola. I don’t think it has aged well – though at the time books such as this were probably quite important as they heralded a new realism and awareness in literature. Having said that I can’t say I enjoyed this at all: there was an exaggerated bleakness the lack of hope which seemed artificial. Still, the character of Germinie and the psychological elements are very interesting, and these have enough unique qualities to dispel the cliches. The character of her lover the sign-maker – could have come straight out of Balzac – including his confusion and misreading of Germinie. So, possibly the best elements in this story are inherited from Balzac.