When I read Disgrace by J. M. Coetzee the main character talked some about Emma Bovary. At the time I found his insights interesting. I decided then and there to bump Madame Bovary up my TBR list. After reading Flaubert’s novel I tried to remember what was said in Disgrace and for the life of me I have zero recollection. My memory is getting worse each day it seems. Oh well, at least I read another classic from my 1001 list.
This French classic is about Emma Bovary. According to Mary McCarthy, “She is a very ordinary middle-class woman, with banal expectations of life and an urge to dominate her surroundings. Her character is remarkable only for an unusual deficiency of natural feeling.” This is a great description of Emma. She is never content and is always looking to others to make her happy and to feel loved. The action of the story takes place in nineteenth-century bourgeois France and it shows the limitations women endured in that society. There were not a lot of freedoms and chances to escape their fate. But it also condemns the corruption and stupidity of men and women. Not many of Flaubert’s characters escape the author’s contempt.
To be honest, I was baffled by this novel. I didn’t like any of the characters in the story. I felt sorry for Charles, Emma’s husband, but couldn’t really relate to him. As I write this, I can’t think of one character that I enjoyed getting to know. Not one that I cheered for. Most of them got on my nerves and I wanted to slap them. Yet the writing is so beautiful it pulled me in. Even thought the characters disgusted me, I didn’t want to set the book down. And since finishing it, I keep thinking about it. This one may linger for a bit. Who know for how long though with my memory.
This is the 81st book I’ve read from my 1001 list. I’m excited to narrow in on 100. That will feel like the first milestone for this part of the challenge. Up next is Mansfield Park.