This book is particularly interesting for the American reader because it shows that the "modern" mind manipulation techniques used in advertising today were well honed and in operation long before Vance Packard wrote "The Hidden Persuaders" or Madison Avenue was ever heard of. They are all here: loss leaders, careful product placement to prompt "impulse" buying of unnecessary items and all based on the flightiness of female nature learnt by the store owner in the previous volume "Pot-Bouille". And to round it all off, we have the classic message "money can't buy me love", though the ending hints that the male and female lead may yet "come together" in the future. After reading this, and indeed any Zola novel, two thoughts remain: "it's all been done before" and "there's nothing new under the sun". Readers gain an insight into the social forces that led to so many people supporting trade unions and "left wing socialist" political views. The book is contemporary to the First International and Marx's "Das Kapital". It's not Zola's best work, but you do realise why Warner Bros thought him worthy of a biopic in 1937.