Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert
Star rating: ★★★ ☆☆ 3/5 stars
Summary: Charles Bovary, a mediocre Doctor marries his second wife, Emma. She is young and has an idealistic view of how her life will be based on novels and her imagination. She is disappointed when she finds life isn’t as she thought it would be and she’s not as in love with her husband as she thought.
Reasons for picking this book: I watched the newer movie on a whim when it was on Netflix. I thought it was sort of interesting but lacking so I thought I might get a better story by reading the book.
Review: I know I’m real out of practice with reading 19th century writing but I just felt like this book dragged on.
I didn’t have that strong an opinion on the book though, I didn’t love it and I didn’t hate it. It was just okay. I did appreciate that it wasn’t moralizing, I mean I feel the impression that we shouldn’t view Emma as someone to aspire to be is there but there were no long lectures that are so common in books from this era. It was presented without author commentary it was just told as this is what happened.
The book did make me want to read some literary essays which I haven’t done in so long, it was a nice change to read them for pleasure rather than because I had to. I looked up what “brain fever” is when Emma comes down with that after Rodolphe ends things with her. Turns out it’s just a literary disease, it didn’t exist outside of fiction. It was pretty interesting to read about. Apparently it was used a lot when people have a shock and then they come down deathly ill. It was just used to cause drama in literature. Which I suppose is the 19th century version of suddenly waking from a coma like in soaps.
I feel like there could have been more tension over Charles possibly finding out about Emma’s affairs but he was pretty dense. He wasn’t a bad guy but I could understand in the way he was written why Emma got bored of him so easily and looked for love outside of him. Although, I don’t think Emma was really capable of love at all. She doesn’t show much affection for her daughter unless it benefits her or makes her look good.
I didn’t really care what happened to any of the characters so it was hard to maintain my interest in this book. Charles was boring, Emma was flighty and didn’t seem to care about anyone but herself. I did feel sorry for her daughter Berthe but she appears so rarely in the book it isn’t enough to make me want to keep picking the book up and see what happens.
Recommendation: I’d skip this book and the movie. I didn’t find either particularly compelling.
Up next: A Court of Thorns and Roses – A book recommended by a family member