Madame Bovary

Title: Madame Bovary
Author: Gustave Flaubert
Published: 1857
Number of pages: 348
Rating: 5 out of 5

I first read Madame Bovary when I was seventeen years old. What I was doing reading it then I have no idea, except it was on my mother’s shelf, and it seemed somehow forbidden.

Madame Bovary is the story of a woman, who is quite beautiful, completely unable to control her passion. I remembered her as having an affair, forgetting that she had several affairs; nothing was able to satiate her desires for fulfillment, for glamour, for lovely possessions, for excitement.

The most tragic part about Madame Bovary, to me, is that she does not recognize the good she has in her life. A doting husband, albeit clumsy and somewhat ignorant, means nothing to her. A beautiful daughter, when she longed for a son, also means nothing to her. A home which she is generally able to furnish in any way she likes, is never sufficiently decorated. Being a doctor’s wife is not enough glory. Even her affairs do not bring her the fulfillment she desperately craves.

Flaubert’s writing, translated from French, is tremendous. He uses exquisite phrases, minute details, an insight into his characters which is formidable. They are as alive today as they must have been 152 years ago; their emotional struggles and relationships seem as poignant to me now as they must have felt to those who suffered them then.

It is a magnificent book.

16 thoughts on “Madame Bovary

  1. Being French you'd think I have read this book? No, just here and there. As I wrote in an earlier post my mother did not allow m to read it and I was 16-17? I am surprised this is highschool material, it was not allowed in french schools until the bacalaureat or bacho as we called it.I will definitely read it again this year not just page through it. Love your review!P.S. Bovary "OVARY" hmmmm?


  2. I'm surprised it was required for High School reading, too; I'll bet that you were in Advanced Lit classes, Literary Feline, while the rest of us where reading To Kill A Mockingbird and Grapes of Wrath. This book never ceases to touch me, because it addresses the issue of discontent so deeply. At what point are we willing to sacrifice everything? Does what we search for truly satisfy us in the end? Really, it could be read for a philosophy class as much as for a literature study.


  3. I think it's time for me to revisit Madame Bovary! Funny how 17 year olds gravitate toward the forbidden…I remember passing around a copy of 'The Godfather' that we'd covered with green construction paper!


  4. I loved The Godfather! I remember keeping that under wraps as well, plus thinking glorified thoughts about the Mafia while reading it. I guess being 17 is a time for exploration, eh?


  5. I didn't realize that this one was so old! I do have a copy on the shelf, but it is an older copy and I'm not sure it could withstand a reading. You've got me on the language–I'm a sucker for this type of writing, but I think I would really dislike Madame Bovary the character. One day…So glad you like this one so much–if you link it to the classics challenge I believe you'll be the first review!! (hint hint…nudge nudge).


  6. Trish, I'm glad you hinted and nudged because I didn't know you had this review site; I've only seen the sign up link. So, I changed the button in my sidebar to take us straight to the Classics Challenge review site, and thanks for cluing me in. 😉


  7. Hi. Thanks for the review. Now I remember that I watched the DVD in French for class (as an adult). I am convinced now I will try and find the book. It can be one of my Lost in Translation reads.


  8. Tamara, I'd love to see the film. I have a vague recollection of seeing the end, where she's throwing up black poison; perhaps on PBS? (Isn't that a lovely, graphic image?)I love older books, too, Ladytink, and this one is a great read.


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