Review: Madame Bovary – Gustave Flaubert

madamebovary“Love, she thought, must come suddenly, with great outbursts and lightnings,–a hurricane of the skies, which falls upon life, revolutionises it, roots up the will like a leaf, and sweeps the whole heart into the abyss.”

Madame Bovary is essentially a book about a woman who loves the idea of romance. Emma Bovary is a gem of a character, she’s entered a marriage with an idyllic viewpoint based on what she has read and finds out that love, marriage and sex isn’t like what she read about (I feel you, Emma. I feel you.). So, she decides to do something about it. The book follows her, and reads as an outsider looking in, as she embarks on a number of affairs.

There were a few glaring problems with this for me though; Emma as a character was far better than the book as a whole. I wasn’t keen on the writing style or the flow in parts. There are some beautiful passages, some descriptions are just so vivid but I think the core problem is that I didn’t feel like I was part of the story, I did just feel like an observer and that not being able to fully engage with it bothered me.

But Emma, oh Emma Bovary. You are a breath of fresh air and I love you. Just a little bit. It would be very easy to actually hate every character in this book, even Emma, but I found myself liking her. She’s quite conceited and narcissistic, she has an addictive personality but… She’s just awesome. She’s not perfect, she’s full of flaws actually, but she’s just intoxicating in a way.

I read this as part of my reading challenge for the year as a romance novel but, really, it’s not really a romance. It wants to be a romance and every character in the book wants their life to be a romance novel. But there’s a lot more to it than that and it’s not your typical fluffy romance either. By the end, it’s actually quite a sad book – beautiful – but heartbreaking.

Overall I’m glad I read this and I’m going to give it 3/5.