oh, that emma bovary!


A reader recently noticed I’ve been neglecting posting about the books I’ve been reading. And I have. So here are some initial thoughts about Madame Bovary, the most recent novel selected in my 100 novels reading project.

At about the 10 percent mark of the novel (I’ve borrowed this arbitrary figure from Jane Smiley and so far it’s been correct) Flaubert has introduced his key figures, Charles and Emma, has them married, and by page 43 [my edition] introduces a complication:

Before her marriage [Emma] had thought that she had love within her grasp; but since the happiness which she had expected this love to bring her hadn’t come, she supposed she must’ve been mistaken.

Then Flaubert slows the narrative down some for a brief analysis of why Emma might believe her marriage hasn’t brought her the happiness of love she has sought. In short she’s a capital ‘R’ romantic. Nothing short of high passion all the time will make her happy. Flaubert, in a few pages of narrative summary, deepens Emma’s character.

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