I’m not ashamed to admit that I plucked this book from a shelf in a charity shop almost solely because of its distinct Frenchness. It was a lovely little Penguin Modern Classics edition with a Expressionist painting on the cover, so as someone who loves books as artefacts I was compelled to buy it. And I was far from disappointed by its contents. I could feel this book becoming a new favourite as I was reading it, practically pencil-marking every other sentence for the expression being utterly perfect.
Set in the Bordeaux region of France, the novel opens as a court case closes; Thérèse has been acquitted of the crime of poisoning her husband, Bernard. This lays the groundwork for the subsequent events of the novel, exploring both the causes and the repercussions of her seemingly morally devoid act. Her unhappy marriage, unwanted motherhood and the intense social pressures upon her build a picture of a woman driven to unimaginable extremes by those around her.