Book Review: Madame Bovary (Flaubert)

Hey, it’s Flaubert time! LET’S DO THIS, Y’ALL. Spoilers as usual.

Have I read this before: Long, long ago, yes. This was probably the second or third book I read off of my original list, so that was likely in 7th or (at latest) 8th grade.

Review: This book is a lot sadder than I remember it being. Maybe because back in 7th grade I had basically zero concept of what a relationship really was (apart from wanting one with a certain someone, but WE WON’T GET INTO THAT) and what it meant to be in one. But this book is basically all about how miserable it can be to be in a relationship that you don’t want but can’t seem to find a way out of. Flaubert does a really excellent job of portraying the misery of Emma Bovary and how desperate she is to really try and find happiness in a relationship—whether that relationship is with her husband or not. I certainly didn’t remember the poison-induced suicide, though.

Also, I know this was written during a totally different time than today and social standards are a bit different, especially for women, but my mind was basically screaming “YOU PEOPLE NEED COMMUNICATION SKILLS” the entire time.

Favorite part: Lots of good quotes in this book, mostly about how much it sucks being unable to find happiness in a relationship.

  • Before the wedding, she had believed herself in love. But not having obtained the happiness that should have resulted from that love, she now fancied that she must have been mistaken.
  • As their [Emma and Charles, her husband] outward familiarities grew, she began to be inwardly detached, to hold herself more aloof from him.
  • And all the time, deep within her, she was waiting for something to happen. … She had no idea what that chance would be, what wind would waft it to her, where it would set her ashore…But every morning when she woke she hoped to find it there. She listened to every sound, started out of bed, and was surprised when nothing came. Then at sunset, sadder every day, she longed for the morrow.
  • (During her affair with Leon) They began to talk more of things indifferent to their love. … She would look forward to a profound happiness at next meeting, then have to admit that she felt nothing remarkable.

Rating: 7/10


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