Author: Gustave Flaubert
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.