Madame Bovary Read-A-Long, Week 1

October 16, 2010

During the month of October, Frances of Nonsuch Book is hosting a read-a-long of Madame Bovary. I have somehow owned two copies of the book for years upon years, but have never gotten past the first few pages … so I’m joining in!

This week, we have read Part I of the book. Some people are reading the newest translation – the one with the absolutely gorgeous cover used for the image above – but I am, sadly, reading my old Wordsworth Classics version. Oh well!

I thought that the first part would be fairly short, but it turns out that it’s about 50 pages! So much happens in those pages, too. I’m not really sure how I feel about any of the characters yet … I sort of dislike Madame Bovary senior (Charles’ mother) because of her meddling with Emma, but it’s not like Emma is a very sympathetic character at this point, either. She’s just so damn picky about everything! It would be easier to dislike her if I thought that Charles was a better man than he is, but even so, I don’t feel like I can quite let him take all the blame for Emma’s unhappiness, so I’m torn. Really not sure that the whole moving-to-another-city and Emma-getting-pregnant are good ideas … eep. She’s already miserable, what happens when she’s miserable AND pregnant?!

How about you? Are you reading along? What do you think?


  • Allison October 17, 2010 at 8:44 am

    I read Madame Bovary in high school and absolutely loved it. Trust me, it does get better!

    • Carina October 20, 2010 at 9:17 pm

      Good to know! I’m still struggling through part two, but it seems like bits and pieces are picking up a bit.

  • BuriedInPrint October 18, 2010 at 10:30 am

    I’m reading an older translation as well (a pocket book Penguin that I’ve had for about 20 years), but still enjoying it. I’m not sure how I feel about anyone yet…

  • Shelley October 18, 2010 at 5:18 pm

    I was feeling about the same as you as far as sympathy towards the characters, but now I have read a little more, and my feelings are changing…

  • Richard October 18, 2010 at 5:41 pm

    I’m a tiny bit “torn” about which of the two main characters is ultimately more responsible for Emma’s unhappiness, Carina, but I think Flaubert does a good job at exploiting that tension for the sake of the novel. I particularly like the juxtapositions setting off Flaubert’s descriptive excesses vs. his psychological subtleties. Quite interesting reading for me thus far. Cheers!

    • Carina October 20, 2010 at 9:23 pm

      Yup, I’m unsure so far who is more to blame … her for not saying anything, or him for being oblivious to her misery.

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