The Belly of Paris
Focusing on the food market of Les Halles, this novel contrasts the extraordinary excess of the food markets with the poverty (both material and spiritual) of Second Empire Paris.
The penultimate novel of the series covers the disastrous Franco-Prussian War through the lives of ordinary soldiers. It ends with brief coverage of The Commune and burning of Paris.
Zola's novel about impressionism. The rumor is that he sent a copy to Cezanne and Cezanne thanked Zola and never spoke to him again.
The Ladies' Paradise
This tale of the rise of department stores rings true in the 21st century. The Ladies' Paradise closes local businesses like a proto-Amazon or WalMart.