Friday, July 19, 2013

Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert

I'm in two minds about this book. I liked it, but I also took the longest time to finish it (that may just be my reluctance to finish reading an actual paper book and hence reduce the amount of books I have to read though).

If you haven't heard of this really famous book, basically, Madame Bovary is about um, Madame Bovary, the wife of a country doctor called Charles Bovary. She read a lot and had a lot of romantic notions, but her marriage to Charles wasn't as romantic as she hoped. So she entered two affairs, one after the other and ruined herself with the second one.

To me, the strength of the book lies in its characters. Madame Bovary (Emma) is complex, to say the least. The way she treats her husband and how her guilt influences her actions is interesting. She makes some really stupid decisions, but when she makes them, as the reader, I understood why she made them. Monsieur Bovary, on the other hand, is the perpetual trusting husband. He really is sweet, and if it wasn't for the fact that he's incompetent and has very little ambition, I think he really could have made Emma happy.

But, having said that, I somehow felt a disconnect with Emma's two lovers. For some reason, I didn't really understand them, and I probably felt more emotion over more minor characters than them (I was more angry at the tradesman that conned Emma then them, for one thing).

All in all, I think this is a very interesting book that you should read. It's a nuanced, beautiful book, and it's definitely one that I could read over and over again. In fact, I probably will re-read it sometime in the future, because I'll like to analyse it (perhaps on the second reading certain themes will jump out).


  1. I read this recently as well, though I haven't gotten around to reviewing it. I agree that Madame Bovary is a very interesting character, but I also found her trying. In describing this book to others I've been saying, "Madame Bovary sits around and thinks about how much she hates her life." It's a bit depressing, and it also means there's not quite as much action as one might expect in a novel about adultery. It was worth the read, but it isn't one of my favorite classics, just based on gut reaction to the plot.

    1. That's actually a really good summary for the whole book! I admire the language, but not the characters :p


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