NANA, published in 1880 by Emile Zola, is an interesting take on sex-obsessed Paris of the nineteenth century, the Paris that has now become a stereotype for sexual behavior in our own times.
The heroine, Nana, is both available and unavailable. She gains notoriety when she bares all and appears on the stage in the nude as Venus. She is not shy at sharing her bed with several men. Yet when these men try to claim her, to possess her as their own, she turns away, preferring to be by herself.
This is a wonderful novel until the end.
Nana’s horrific death from smallpox is described in a style of male chauvinist, moralizing, sexist claptrap, totally offensive and “uncool” (in the jargon of today’s young people.)
Which is a shame, as it spoils an otherwise great novel. Five stars for the interesting take, 1 star for the male priggery.