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Gemma Bovery [Hardcover]

Posy Simmonds
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)

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Book Description

16 Sep 1999
When Gemma Bovery receives a sudden windfall she takes her family across the Channel to Normandy, but the charms of French country life soon wear off. Is it by chance, then, that she bears a similar name to Flaubert's heroine? And that she too is bored and adulterous? Is she doomed as well?

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 112 pages
  • Publisher: Jonathan Cape Ltd; First Edition edition (16 Sep 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0224052519
  • ISBN-13: 978-0224052511
  • Product Dimensions: 29 x 17 x 1.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 257,584 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Amazon Review

The Chunnel has made no difference. The French remain utterly foreign in English eyes, a peculiar and self-absorbed race that can give us cartoon books, call them la bande desinée and pretend they're as high an art form as, say, the novels of Gustave Flaubert. When plain English folk venture even as far as Normandy, they're letting themselves in for culture shock on a grand scale. Gemma is your average girl about London. Dumped by her ambitious lover, she rebounds onto a safe bet, gentle furniture restorer Charles Bovery. But Charles comes with an ex-wife and children and Gemma baulks at being the unpaid babysitter. When money falls into her lap, Gemma flees London and drags Charles to Normandy, where she spices up her increasingly dull marital life with a bit on the side named Patrick Large. But then she dies, under mysterious circumstances.

The English would see this as poetic comeuppance for adultery and emigration, of course, but to Bailleville baker Raymond Joubert, it's a tragedy of epic proportions, as befits Gemma's namesake (OK, near-namesake), Emma Bovary. So, with brilliant novelistic pomposity, Joubert traces Gemma's life through the diaries she left, reading Gallic depth and meaning into every trite occurrence. Posy Simmonds is of course best known for her Posy cartoons in the Guardian, but if you've never believed you could get through an entire book of cartoons, think again. This is a brilliantly funny and beautifully sustained book, that in its very form skilfully illuminates the gaping void between English and French sensibilities. You don't need to know Flaubert to read Simmonds, but after reading this, then Madame Bovary is bound to be back on your wishlist of Books You Always Meant to Read. --Alan Stewart


" Truly original, witty and well-observed--a work of genius." --"Sunday Telegraph" " The most original book of the year...beady, cunning, and terribly funny." -- Deborah Moggach, "Daily Mail" " Hilarious...the absurdities of daily life among the aspiring metropolitan middle class at home and abroad." --"The Times" "From the Trade Paperback edition."

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Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars
4.4 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Too good for words.A must see. 25 April 2000
By A Customer
This is the first work I have seen by Posy Simmonds, and for sure not the last.I work as a comic artist myself and it it so rare that anything comes out with such a caliber of quality in both art and writing. I cannot recommend this book highly enough.It is a tour-de-force of comic storytelling.I thank an article with this book recommendation from Hilary Spurling. WE WANT MORE.Pleeeease...Teddy H.Kristiansen
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars When is a comic not a comic? 4 Oct 1999
By A Customer
Following hot on the heels of Ethel and Ernest by Raymond Briggs is another graphic novel that the mainstream literature critics will insist is not a comic book even though it so obviously is. Gemma Bovery is yet more proof that comics are an artform capable of the same levels of personal expression as any other medium like prose, film, poetry et al. Of course, this fact will be either ignored or treated with downright contempt and ridicule by most reviewers who will claim that Gemma Bovery is something more than a comic strip, and continue to make snide cracks about the French pretense that comics are an art.
Nevertheless, Gemma Bovery is a fine example of the heights that comics can achieve, and I congratulate Ms. Simmonds on a wonderfully rewarding and compelling book.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Elegant and witty 13 Dec 1999
Even if you have not read Flaubert, you will enjoy this updating of his masterpiece, with its contemporary slant on Anglo-French relationships. The parallels with the original are sly and witty, the draughtsmanship impeccable, and the characters surprisingly engaging. This is an obligatory read for anyone owning a second home in France, and equally highly recommended to anyone with a sense of fun, irony and style. In its way, like "Madame Bovary", a masterpiece.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliance 28 Nov 1999
By A Customer
Gemma Bovery by Posy Simmonds is a most funny, remarkable and tragic book. Gemma's life brilliantly resounds of Flaubert's Emma, told by the village baker (Raymond Joubert, by the way) in a flash-back. The combination between the expressive drawings, the English text and the French hints, make you really rush through the book. Makes you wonder what the real Flaubert book is like and whether Posy Simmonds has other books of the brilliance.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Posy is wonderful 17 Nov 1999
Posy I've missed you! Ever since the demise of Wendy and George Weber and their associates I have been waiting for another set of characters to appear.
Your brilliant observations of social, especially middle class, behaviour have not dimmed.
Welcome back!
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