Émile Zola’s The Ladies' Paradise, is a novel that tells the story of Denise Baudu, a 20 year old woman who comes to Paris to work at the department store Au Bonheur des Dames. The novel is set from the employees' perspective,and describes in detail the thirteen hour workdays, the less than sought after food, and the hardly livable lodgings for the female staff. The department store the novel is set in is said to be modeled after The Bon Marché. The narrative details many of Le Bon Marché's innovations, including its mail-order business, its system of commissions, its in-house staff commissary, and its methods of receiving and retailing goods.
The book is a sequel to another novel by Zola, Pot-Bouille or Pot-Luck. The book, other than focusing on Denise, it also features a returning character from the previous novel, Octave Mouret, who had married Caroline Hédouin, the owner of a small silk shop. Sadly, at the start of Paradise, Octave has now become a widower as his new wife had died. Octave has expanded her business into a retail chain and is beginning to posses the entire city block.
There is a social message in the book: Octave's grand store (called, of course, Au Bonheur des Dames, aka Ladies'