Madame Bovary published in 1856 and written by French author Gustave Flaubert was one of our book club picks earlier this year. The original publication of this work was in the Paris Review between October and December 1856. Gustave was taken to court in January 1857 because public prosecutors claimed the book was obscene. He was acquitted in February and by April 1857, the book as a single volume was a best seller.
I was the only one in our book club who enjoyed reading this book, its literature and literature is my favorite genre, so the cheese stands alone. I agree with my fellow book club members that there are no lovable characters in this book and I would have like to have seen more sympathetic behaviors and attitudes by the characters and more kindness in Emma Bovary so that she was not completely portrayed as a bad soul. Remember this was published in the 1850’s, a long time ago, and the books makes a case against women reading books to expand their minds and that it was books that caused Emma Bovary to have romantic ideas, causing her to do the things she did, spending beyond her means and sleeping around. But there were other contributing factors including the men in her life, some of them who are unable to grasp reality or attempt to understand her and pay enough attention to her to know what is going on. The men had their own lives outside of her, including her husband and she wanted the same freedom and independence. For me this was a page-turner, I wanted to know what was going to happen next.
I was a little distracted by the word “voluptuous” which is over used and sometimes wrongly used throughout the book. Just remember that if you read this book in English, you’re reading a translation of what Gustave originally wrote in French by someone else, in this case Eleanor Marx Aveling. In English, it’s easy to read, and it’s not too long at 321 pages.
Madame Bovary is in the public domain which means you can read and listen to it for free at Gutenberg.org and Librivox.org. If you’re a literature buff like me, add this classic to your reading list. Find your quiet place to read or listen to this one.