The story wasn't was I was expecting at all. I only picked it up due to a review on the First Tuesday Book Club. I thought it would be more flippant and romantic. Instead it is harrowing and tragic.
I don't view Madame Bovary as a heroine. I tend to think of the main characters as heros and heroines when I like them. I think of them as protagonists when they antagonise me! Madame Bovary was antagonistic. She must have been mentally ill - either bi-polar disorder or antisocial personality disorder. I didn't feel anguish for her, which I know I was meant to - I was just incredibly frustrated at her emotionally immature she was!!!
Madame Bovary is a very modern woman. She is extremely vain and materialistic. She wants to be loved, but doesn't know how to love. She reminds me of women who admire the characters in Sex and the City. Don't get me wrong - I love Sex and the City, but I know that it is not a true reflection of single life in New York. Women who admire and want the life depicted in Sex and the City are not realistic - they don't realise how hollow and lonely that life would actually be.
Madame Bovary didn't have Sex and the City, clearly, because she lived in rural France in the 1850s. But she did have fiction, and she escaped into a fictional world. She thought that love was a contrived romantic passion. She lived her life striving for something (love) which she actually always had. On her death-bed, I'm not sure if she even realised how much her husband loved her. And those men whom she had affairs with, who apparently loved her so much, didn't even blink an eye or suffered a sleepless night when she died. She was a foolish woman - shallow and self-centred.
This must be a good novel, to still get me riled up, even after a few days of having finished it ...
Gustave Flaubert was brilliant for his time, and very modern himself. Very perceptive to write such a modern novel with issues that are still relevant over 150 years later.