Book Review: Madame Bovary By Gustave Flaubert

Madame Bovary Gustave flaubert

Preface: With this post I would like to inform you that from now onwards this blog will cover more TV and Book content reviews. I like movies and I like TV, so why not books?

Since the beginning of the year I have been on a mission. The mission is to read as many classic books as I can. So far, I have managed to read Melville, Joyce, Shakespeare, de Saint-Exupéry, Orwell to name a few. And recently I have just finished reading the French classic Madame Bovary and decides to write my first book review about it.

Gustave Flaubert’s Madame Bovary tells the twisted tale of Emma Bovary – a beautiful, naive, adulterous and irritating French belle. At the beginning, Emma is portrayed as a naive and ambitious young woman in a small village in France. Judging by her ambition, it’s no puzzle she ended up marrying Dr Charles Bovary and thus acquiring his last name: Madame Bovary.

Emma thought her life would be perfect once she is out of the village. She doesn’t particularly has a problem with her village lifestyle, though. She lives with her father who adores her very much and everything seems to be alright. But no, Emma wants more. She deserves more.

Her marriage to Charles begins as dream-like. Emma is happy, she is now a wife of a doctor. However, things never stays the same for Emma. After the delicious stay-in with certain rich patients of Charles, Emma craves for luxurious beauty. And since she and her husband belong to a middle class and not the royalty, Emma sulks in her despair; and this leads to moving to Yonville, another town in Northern France.

As it turns out, Yonville is much better for Emma. Sure the sleepy town doesn’t have much compare to Paris, but in Yonville there is Leon, the young lawyer that pique the interest of our Madame. Are they going to hit it off? Wait, is she going to cheat on Charles? Bow chicka wow wow.

Throughout reading Madame Bovary, I just can’t help but loving Emma and her foolish attempts. This woman is clearly on psychological fire. First, she tries to cheat on Charles with Leon, but that doesn’t work out as she has planned. Then, she deliberately (and desperately) falls into another affair with the cunning, Rudolphe and you know it doesn’t end there.

I understand the resentment for Emma Bovary, heck she is not likeable at all. But the way I see it, and trust me there are lots of way to see it, Emma is a metaphor to the bourgeois lifestyle that inspired the novel. The bourgeois here are those nouveau riche, or simply new rich class that never feel satisfied with what they own and always wanting more. Thus, the character of Emma who possessed everything, from beauty to money, in her possession still lack the appreciation for what she had. Did Flaubert take it too far with Emma? No, because we are living in the same world and we have met the same people like Emma. In short, Madame Bovary is an indirect mockery to all of us who are never grateful for what we have.

Of course, the book’s theme is also heavily fused with Flaubert’s deep longing on romanticism, which can be overwhelming to some and treasured to many.

The romanticism explore here also interest me. When one think of romantic they might think of The Notebook or Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, which is far off from the romanticism Gustave Flaubert has painted. No, the romantic aspect of Madame Bovary, in my opinion, is the palpable affair between Flaubert and his words (he suffers from peculiar OCD, where he needs the obligation to find the right words). Despite reading the English translation by Eleanor Marx Aveling, it’s obvious to me how impressive and powerful the original version would be like.

The original French version of Madame Bovary comprises of 4500 pages but got chop down to 300-something pages upon publishing (which you can find online but in French). And I won’t lie If I say I am not tempted to read those monstrous ‘sexy’ pages, however, I have to settle with what I have read.

Madame Bovary might get a little too real in the end with the harsh ending, which leaves certain sour taste in my mouth; but if you know reality, then you know it sucks and you have to hand it to Flaubert who got it right.

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7 thoughts on “Book Review: Madame Bovary By Gustave Flaubert

  1. snapcracklewatch

    Good review! A+ my friend for getting on the classics wagon. I am also a fan of classics, I rarely read new stuff. Although right now I am reading Game of Thrones, which actually reads like an old book. Have you read those? I feel like with classics there are so many, that you can always catch up on one that you haven’t read. I majored in English and I don’t think I am even half way reading through most. What is your fave so far or fave authors?

  2. 13mesh

    OMG yes another classicist!! And thank you, I had so much fun reading the book. I just started on the classics wagon but have managed to read quite a few. However there are so many of them like you said, it’s so hard to choose at times lol.

    I haven’t got my hand around GOT but glad you did. I am betting myself to read at least one of the books by the end of the year.

    I remember reading you major in English, that’s so cool. I enjoy Dickens and Shakespeare most I guess, as I’ve read their work back in school.

    So far I like all of the classics except Mellville’s Moby Dick lol. I was so pissed at myself for allowing that experience haha. Who’s yours?

  3. snapcracklewatch

    Ohh Mellville is rough, in college they devote a whole course just to him and primarily Moby Dick because that is how difficult he is to read. I am not a fan myself.

    I am almost done with GOT book 1 and omg it is so good, if you loved the show then you will love reading the back stories. I can’t put it down!

    I love Shakespeare, Hamlet and Othello would be my faves, but those books are not the ones that are easy to pick up and just read, so I rarely reach for those. But nonetheless very good, I mean who will deny the awesomeness of Shakespeare right.

    My favorite book of all time is Brave New World by Aldous Huxley. I also like Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury and The Time Machine by H.G. Wells, which are futuristic classics. Also, Gulliver’s Travels by Jonathan Swift, he is a genius! I also like Oscar Wilde, anything really by him, but specifically The Picture of Dorian Gray and The Importance of Being Earnest (which is actually really funny and a quick read). Ethan Frome by Edith Wharton, which is a gothic novel, dark and weird, you might like this and also a short read. If you are a fan of Sherlock type stuff, definitely check out Arthur Conan Doyle’s books. I also like poetry by Charles Bukowski… love love that stuff. Check that out if you want something quick and fun to read.

    Ok you brought out my inner nerd, thanks a lot Mesh! I hope I have given you some ideas on what to read. Those pretty much hit all categories, future stuff, funny and dark. I don’t know why but I think you will really like Ethan Frome and The Picture of Dorian Gray… dark and interesting.

  4. 13mesh

    WHOA! Thanks a bunch I have list down most of the names I didn’t know.

    I have heard many great things about Dorian Gray and Brave New World. Those both are in my next to read list. I also have read Charles Bukowski but haven’t read much.

    Damn, now you really make me wanna read all day long haha. Oh btw, are you on Goodreads?

  5. snapcracklewatch

    I know right I am sorry I put such a long winded answer!! You hit my soft spot for books. Yes read Brave New World first, would love to hear your thoughts!

    No what is goodreads?

  6. 13mesh

    No no that was awesome! I appreciate (and needed) the recommendations. Will let you know what I think once I’ve read them.

    Oh Goodreads is like facebook for books lover. It’s nothing special, but it’s fun to see others review and recommendations. Check it out if you are interested 🙂

  7. snapcracklewatch

    Awesome I will have to check it out. I think I have seen it on people’s wordpress, where they have it connected to Goodreads, if that that is the one I am thinking. Thanks for the recommendation! And yes when you read any of those do tell your thoughts.

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