Nana Coupeau is a beautiful woman, able to attract men of enormous wealth with the crook of her finger. Part-time prostitute, part-time actress, she makes her debut in a mediocre operetta The Blonde Venus at the bustling Paris World’s Fair of 1867. She can’t sing, act or dance, yet she is stunning. Nana soon rockets through elite Parisian society, and, blinded by desire, men crawl to her feet, yielding to her every demand. Affections are manipulated, hearts are broken; fortunes are gutted and inheritances squandered. The poverty and violence of Nana’s upbringing have led her to a cold and profligate life – a metaphoric indictment of the excesses of France’s Second Empire, and a striking example of Zola’s Naturalism.
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