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Madame Bovary: Life in a Country Town (World's Classics) [Paperback]

Gustave Flaubert , Terence Cave , G. Hopkins
3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)

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Book Description

19 Nov 1981 0192815644 978-0192815644
Novel in which a woman defies the standards of conventional French society.

Product details

  • Paperback: 390 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford Paperbacks (19 Nov 1981)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0192815644
  • ISBN-13: 978-0192815644
  • Product Dimensions: 18.2 x 11.6 x 2.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 2,224,122 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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About the Author

Anita Brookner is a novelist and art historian whose books include the Booker prize-winning Hotel du Lac (1984), A Private View (1994), and Falling Slowly (1998). --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A thoroughly enjoyed read.. 8 Jun 2006
I throughly enjoyed this work which I found both thought provoking and highly entertaining.

It quickly dawned on me that this was no ordinary 'intelligent woman struggling against bigoted times' novel but one that went much deeper than conventional works. I loved the fact that Emma far from being an ideolised good natured heroine was in fact a selfish, sensual and self-centred women with destructive tendencies. It made her much easier to relate to! Despite the fact that she really is a very unpleasant character there was something about her that I found really appealing. Perhaps it was the way that she increasingly gave into her every desire and expressed the disatisfaction that we all often feel with life but fail to show.

Emma seemed to me so very real with her constant search throughout the novel for an elusive ideal of happiness. One she trys to find in her quest for material goods, her love affairs and her brief religious devotion. Many of her passions are shown to be unltimately shallow and without any real substance - in particular her supposed religious extremisim which is quickly forgotten upon meeting with Leon again - her second lover. I found this portrayal to be an honest and reflective account of her search for happiness and her inability to find happiness in any of the aspects of her life.

I felt very strongly that one of the novel's great strengths was the way the character traits of all the other characters contrast with the heroine. From the wonderful portrayl of the arrogant, boastful Homais who's pompus unbearable arrogance and complete lack of self-awareness highlight the frustrations of Emma's life, to Charles her devoted, kind and good husband who is utterly unsuited to Emma and who by being her complete opposite highlights the destrution of Emma's nature.

There are no hero's in the book and I found that its honest portrayal of the frustrations and passions of life just as relevant today as 150 years ago.
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13 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars In Praise of a Great Novel 28 April 2005
By A Customer
Anyone who feels compelled to label this novel as boring, trashy, romantic etc. has failed to comprehend the subtleties of this fine novel. It is actually an anti-romance, offering a tragic portrayl of a doomed love affair. In fact, it subverts all of the usual rules of the romance narrative, and in doing so provides a novel of huge significance and cultural importance. As readers we are invited to share in Flaubert's highly perceptive (and at the time, hugely original) account of the human condition. We are not supposed to judge and damn Emma as selfish, irrational, immoral etc., rather her character articulates the great complexity of the human experience. The novel is unique in dealing sensitively with human emotion without resorting to romantic cliches. Emma Bovary is so significant a text in pushing the boundaries of "classic" literature, and has been central to so much critical debate that it is astonishing that anyone could find it boring. I guess some people might be disappointed that the novel isn't as sexually explicit as they might have anticipated, and lacks an ending that matches the romantic ideal.
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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars in defence of madame bovary... 25 Feb 2005
By A Customer
I was somewhat surprised upon reading the mostly negative reviews for this book. I recently borrowed it from a friend and wanted to purchase my own copy because I enjoyed the book so much.
The character of Emma is incredibly well drawn and very easy to emphasise with. The reader can judge her behaviour to be wrong on occasion but the reader can also see why she is behaving in such a way. The prose is sharp and clear and repeatedly manages to boil seemingly complicated ideas down into single sentences.
The description at the beginning sets up the story, and I would certainly not dismiss this book as just another romance novel. There is a lot of food for thought within the book and upon reading it was evident to me why it is so well known. I would recommend it highly and encourage people not to be put off by others describing it as boring. In my opinion it is far from it.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting but Frustrating 15 Mar 2010
By T. M.
Madame Bovary tells the story of a doctor's young wife in provinical France, charting her slide from happiness into reckless adventure and utlimately depression. Flaubert focuses on Emma's inner frustrations and desires in contrast to her husband's placid acceptance of his position in society in a way that is both compelling and utterly frustrating.

The novel isn't merely a tale of adultery, but an exploration of captivity in society's restraints and the struggle against mediocrity in life.

I would recommend this for people who want to explore more of the classics than just the obvious British canon, but don't read French well enough to use the original text. University and A level students of English Literature should definitely read this!

The book is remarkable for its realism and the minute details in the language that Flaubert considered so important.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A proper little Madame 25 Feb 2010
With the exception of Becky Sharp, Emma Bovary is undoubtedly the baddest heroine in 19th century literature and that makes Flaubert's masterpiece of longing and rebellion all the more compelling. Flaubert paints his characters with an unflattering brush, but Emma is still charismatic. It's all too easy to relate to her desire to escape from the mundane provincial life foisted upon her by society and circumstance.

"Every lawyer carries inside him the debris of a poet," Flaubert declares and it's hard not to admire Emma as she fights against the death of her dreams, no matter how selfish and childish her behaviour becomes. She is almost a feminist hero as she rails against a society that ties a clever and imaginative woman her to a confined role. Flaubert admitted that he identified with her and it's obvious to see despite his unsympathetic treatment of the characters.

So often cheaper versions of novels contain poor translations, but this one (Penguin Popular Classics) is better than some of the more expensive ones. I highly recommend this classic.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Classic read and beautifully translated
This version of Flaubert's classic, Madame Bovary, has been translated to make a thoroughly pleasurable read in this particulrly neat and pleasant format. A fantastic buy!
Published on 17 May 2011 by bioche
3.0 out of 5 stars If you're a man thinking of getting married.....
... read this first.
"Madame Bovary" may have scandalised French society in the 19th Century with its account of the married life of serial adulterer Emma Bovary, but it is... Read more
Published on 20 Nov 2005 by L. Davidson
1.0 out of 5 stars Yawn!
Garden-variety romance - even more tedious than Austen or Bronte. Suitable only for teenage girls.
Published on 4 April 2004
2.0 out of 5 stars Some moments of brillliance...but otherwise just boring
I bought this book on the recommendation of my friend, who had read about it and thought that we should try to read it over our summer vacation. Read more
Published on 26 Sep 2003
3.0 out of 5 stars Very good, but dated
Flaubert's style is delightful. It is simple like Maupassant's (who may have been his son, as he had an affair with his mother), whom he taught, and yet analytical too, as say... Read more
Published on 31 May 2003 by Adrian Lever
4.0 out of 5 stars Rewarding if you reflect, otherwise just boring...
Being one of the most famous works of literature, despite the fact that many professional literature criticisers has referred to it as one of the most boring books throughout time... Read more
Published on 20 Dec 2002 by Anders Rasmussen
5.0 out of 5 stars must read - in French
I re-read Madame Bovary about once every eighteen months - I read it in French because, in the original (possibly along with Anna Karenina, which I love in English but which I have... Read more
Published on 28 Nov 2000 by
5.0 out of 5 stars A fantastic book
The book had a good story line and abrilliant finish
Published on 27 Jun 2000
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