Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Scandal, Adultery, and Manipulation

Yesterday I (finally) finished Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert, and I have decided that reviewing the books I read would be fun to include here. The book is divided into 3 sections. The first one is all about Charles Bovary (who marries the title character). It was really slow going; by slow I mean I had to renew the book from the library before I finished Part I. I found it interesting - Flaubert just includes SO many details about pretty much everything, so it took a little longer. But once I hit Part II, I pretty much sailed through it.

Flaubert had some really good insights. I really liked how we see Anne Bovary break down little by little, and her adultery and debt consume her. As I neared the end of the book, I couldn't figure out how she would solve her problems, and the way she does really surprised me. I won't tell you how, but the blame she was hoping to lay did not end up where she had planned.

I found it very sad how very little she cared for her husband, who was such a good man and would have done anything for her. She 'knew' if she hadn't settled for Charles that a better man would have come along - which goes to show how foolish she is, since she is the daughter of a poor farmer. She was lucky to marry a doctor, let alone such a kind and loving man.

It was interesting to me how she changed her role in her second affair to be more like the man in her first - and how she got almost everything she wanted from anyone (until her first lover deserted her, that is).

I would recommend this book - I did enjoy it after I got through the first part. A line that really stood out to me as very insightful:

"...the more flowery a person's speech, he thought, the more suspect the feelings, or lack of feelings, it concealed. Whereas the truth is that fullness of soul can sometimes overflow in utter vapidity of language, for none of us can ever express the exact measure of his needs or his thoughts or his sorrows; and human speech is like a cracked kettle on which we tap crude rhythms for bears to dance to, while we long to make music that will melt the stars."

Love it.

Have you read this book? What did you think?

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