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The Ladies' Paradise

Before chick-lit books became popular, there was The Ladies' Paradise, written in 1883 by Émile Zola and later turned into a series by BBC. The book captures the development of the mid-nineteenth-century department store, and this one was modeled after the famed Parisian store Le Bon Marché. Through the eyes of both the store's owner and a young saleswoman, the novel describes the "innovations" in tactics used to encourage consumerism among female shoppers to the staff's subpar working conditions, like 13-hour workdays and malicious gossip.

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