Brutal, gripping and heart-wrenching, L’Assommoir (also known as The Drinking Den) chronicles the tragic downward spiral of Gervaise Macquart, a good-natured and hardworking laundress who slides into alcoholism and despair. After her lover abandons her and their two children, Gervaise marries a tin worker, Coupeau, who helps her rebuild her life. She starts her own business and the two have a daughter, Anna (the protagonist of Zola’s later novel, Nana). But their happiness is short-lived as a freak accident leaves Coupeau seriously injured, beginning the family’s fall into alcohol, desperation and violence. Disturbingly realistic, L’Assommoir is a vivid portrayal of life in late 19th-century Paris.