“Everything, even herself, was now unbearable to her. She wished that, taking wing like a bird, she could fly somewhere, far away to regions of purity, and there grow young again.”
In provincial France lives Charles Bovary, a doctor who is in an unhappy marriage, and Emma Roualt, the daughter of a farmer who wishes for a more exciting life. Emma has spent time reading about luxurious lives and whirlwind romances in novels, and longs for the day she’ll experience such a life. When this pair crosses paths, there is immediate connection and excitement, and the two are married.
But Emma soon finds out that her life is not going to be like her books, and finds that married life is less exciting than she had hoped. Her uncharmed life continues and with each life event–motherhood, moving towns, love affairs–she is reminded over and over that her life is not what she had dreamed of.
Madame Bovary is an intriguing character study and examination of the ways that great expectations can lead to disappointment and regret. This novel is the height of Gustave Flaubert’s career and remains fascinating and insightful over 150 years later.