L'Assommoir (1877) is the seventh novel in Émile Zola's twenty-volume series Les Rougon-Macquart. Usually considered one of Zola's masterpieces, the novel—a study of alcoholism and poverty in the working-class districts of Paris.
| The novel is principally the story of Gervaise Macquart, who is featured briefly in the first novel in the series, La Fortune des Rougon, running away to Paris with her shiftless lover Lantier to work as a washerwoman in a hot, busy laundry in one of the seedier areas of the city.
L'Assommoir begins with Gervaise and her two young sons being abandoned by Lantier, who takes off for parts unknown with another woman. Though at first she swears off men altogether, eventually she gives in to the advances of Coupeau, a teetotal roofer, and they are married. The marriage sequence is one of the most famous set-pieces of Zola's work; the account of the wedding party's impromptu and chaotic trip to the Louvre is one of the novelist's most famous passages. Through a combination of happy circumstances, Gervaise is able to realise her dream and raise enough money to open her own laundry. The couple's happiness appears to be complete with the birth of a daughter, Anna, nicknamed Nana...|