The Fat and the Thin is a study of the teeming
life which surrounds the great central markets of Paris. The heroine is
Lisa Quenu, a daughter of Antoine Macquart (see The Fortune of the Rougons).
She has become prosperous, and with prosperity her selfishness has increased.
Her brother-in-law Florent had escaped from penal servitude in Cayenne
and lived for a short time in her house, but she became tired of his presence
and ultimately denounced him to the police.
The book contains vivid pictures
of the markets, bursting with the food of a great city, and of the vast
population which lives by handling and distributing it.
"But it also
embraces a powerful allegory," writes Mr. E. A. Vizetelly in his
preface to the English translation, "the prose song of the eternal
battle between the lean of this world and the fat – a battle in which,
as the author shows, the latter always come off successful. M. Zola had
a distinct social aim in writing this book."
(J. G. Patterson)
More info about the Rougon-Macquart series at Wikipedia.