Madame Bovary - Michèle Roberts, Geoffrey Wall, Gustave Flaubert In this case, I think it was a bad idea to know stuff about Madame Bovary and Gustave Flaubert before starting the book. My high school English teacher loved to talk about books - and I know how she feels - but the result was quite a few spoilers for a lot of European classics. I think that knowing the author's intentions can be a bad thing and I'm certain that I was unable to keep it from influencing the way I viewed Emma Bovary and her behaviour. If you're curious about these intentions of Flaubert's: He hated the rising bourgeoisie during the nineteenth century, therefore he intentionally painted them as silly fools obsessed with romance and never satisfied with the good things life gave them.

Even so, three stars means I liked it and I did. The novel reminds me of a cross between Lady Chatterley's Lover and The Painted Veil. I found it better than the former but nowhere near as good as the latter. It is built on the same ideas of a woman being unhappy in marriage and turning to other comforts and affairs in order to try and gain some happiness and romance from life. Emma Bovary starts off a character much like Kitty from The Painted Veil, she is naive and fickle, her new husband is nice and kind but he cannot hold her interest. She longs for passion and excitement and she becomes delusional in the face of empty promises made by her secret lover.

She is a far better character than Constance Chatterley, or perhaps what I mean is that I find her selfishness and dissatisfaction with everything in life more interesting. I am not a big fan of Lawrence - a man who I believe wrote mediocre romance novels and owes his fame to what could at the time be considered shock tactics like "ohmigod, female orgasms!" and "ohmigod, affairs with the working class!" All I'm saying is that Lawrence was lucky the term "mommy porn" wasn't around back then. But Maugham is an entirely different story and I think where Emma Bovary fails and Kitty succeeds is in character growth.

In The Painted Veil, Kitty starts out naive and annoying, at times you'd like to strangle her for being so frustrating... but she suffers, she changes, she adapts and she grows into a different human being. Emma Bovary is a rather hopeless case, and if you did happen to read the spoiler in the first paragraph then you'll probably understand why I think this was Flaubert's intention all along. I will give him every credit where it's due, I think he paints a very interesting and detailed picture of a unhappy woman's life and mental workings. It has been pointed out that he doesn't judge Emma, but I sort of think he does in an indirect way. I mean, Emma Bovary and those closest to her are the ones who suffer in the end because she was so delusional and unable to be happy and satisfied with what she had. But, like I said, my opinion is undoubtedly influenced by what I already knew of Flaubert.

One more thing: I don't believe Gustave Flaubert is really Gustave Flaubert. I think he is Hercule Poirot O.O