Skip to main content
PBS logo
Want fewer ads?

Book Reviews of Madame Bovary

Madame Bovary
ISBN-13: 9780451523877
ISBN-10: 0451523873
Publication Date: 6/1/1964
Pages: 400
  • Currently 3.8/5 Stars.

3.8 stars, based on 18 ratings
Publisher: Signet Classics
Book Type: Paperback
Reviews: Amazon | Write a Review

18 Book Reviews submitted by our Members...sorted by voted most helpful

leSahraBird avatar reviewed Madame Bovary on + 5 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
So much wheat and barley. Maybe it's a metaphor for something really deep, but...*yaaaawn*. If I want to read about people who think the world of themselves, I'll read People Magazine. Less cumulative time wasted, less barley, and more pictures.
racprint avatar reviewed Madame Bovary on + 22 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
When I read that this was considered by many to be the greatest French novel ever (and particularly this translation), I simply had to read it. It does not disappoint. The prose flows over you like dark clouds. Emma is a dreamer, and her dreaming puts her in a vortex that inevitably brings her to a tragic end. A cautionary tale.
reviewed Madame Bovary on + 10 more book reviews
Flaubert's flawless tale of human bondage. The author's realistic & explicit descriptions of the fall of Emma Bovary into adultery, debt and eventual death at her own hand, shocked the establishment of the time and the author and his publisher were prosecuted for irreligion and immorality. Thier acquittal, after a sensational trial, ensured that the book enjoyed an immediate succes de scandale. However, it is the author's treatment of style and aesthetics, as well as a new realism, which established the book as a milestone in the development of the modern novel and a classic of world literature.
skiley avatar reviewed Madame Bovary on + 21 more book reviews
The protagonist, Madame Bovary is the quintessential self-absorbed, materialistic woman who is not even drawn to her own child. As I read the book, I became increasingly impatient with her and her narcissistic worldview. As the story evolved, though, I was struck by Flaubert's ability to make me see myself in Madame Bovary. The subtle writing makes it impossible to avoid this query: how am I like Madame Bovary? I loved the book.
reviewed Madame Bovary on + 289 more book reviews
Gustave Flaubert's debut novel remains as relevant today as it was controversial when first published in 1856. Although subtitled Provincial Lives, Flaubert not only chronicles the small town petit bourgeois lifestyle of the age, but rather excels in painting a vivid psychological portrait of title character Emma Bovary. The banalities of her external provincial life contrast sharply with the internal fantasy life of the pretty, bored wife of a mediocre physician, setting her up for extravagant and ultimately tragic indulgences in both material goods and adulterous affairs. Flaubert describes both worlds masterfully, showing the stark contrast between the two which often goes unnoticed, with a plot structure that moves along without being weighed down with excessive description. It is at once an old and very modern story of disappointment. Emma is intriguingly also the prime example of how mental ills transform into physical suffering, almost as a textbook example of nineteenth century hysterical psychosomatic illness, as well as a lightening rod for immorality and female sexuality. Might as well see what all the fuss is about: this classic does not disappoint.
crickel avatar reviewed Madame Bovary on + 13 more book reviews
Flaubert writes in a modern style, and I would suggest this to anyone who wants to read more classical literature but is put off by the language. The Penguin Classics edition had some great footnotes, and a wonderful introduction by Geoffrey Wall.
reviewed Madame Bovary on + 16 more book reviews
This book is a classic! Loved reading it and hated to end it.
buzzby avatar reviewed Madame Bovary on + 6062 more book reviews
I guess Twitter was invented 150 years too late for her.
I didn't quite get this when I read it 35 years ago.
reviewed Madame Bovary on + 29 more book reviews
Another classic but one I just couldn't get into. When you have to read a book for a specific purpose (like class!) it just makes it that much harder to read. :-)
reviewed Madame Bovary on + 9 more book reviews
A classic! The tragic story of a middle-class woman's downfall.
reviewed Madame Bovary on + 54 more book reviews
This is the classic Madame Bovary: A 1993 Barnes & Noble edition.
reviewed Madame Bovary on + 212 more book reviews
What a sad, yet honest, tale. While I dont identify with Emma Bovarys unhappiness with her husband, I absolutely understand her desire to seek out something more in life and to feel fully alive.

In a lot of ways, I despaired along with her when she would think of missed opportunities or things she wished she could do. I sympathize with her longing to see more of the world, to perhaps find something more for herself or a deeper purpose. Given that I have better chances and a different kind of life, I dont feel as trapped as Emma must have felt, and I certainly would have gone about my quests in a different manner, but I do think the root of all that is in me.

To read the rest of my review, please visit:
reviewed Madame Bovary on + 8 more book reviews
the timeless masterpiece of the original Desperate Housewife.
reviewed Madame Bovary on + 2 more book reviews
I had to read this for one of my classes. I don't think I'd've read it otherwise, but it was a decent book. Well written
reviewed Madame Bovary on + 9 more book reviews
I enjoyed reading this book far more than I thought I would. I found its description of the degradation of Madame Bovary's life compelling
reviewed Madame Bovary on + 68 more book reviews
Mass Markent Paperback. Written in French. Good practice?
yogimommy avatar reviewed Madame Bovary on + 35 more book reviews
I read this book as part of my challenge to read more classic literature in 2011. I feel like this book was an excellent choice. The writing was wonderful, particularly in Part One. Personally, I struggled with Part Two. I cannot put my finger on why exactly. I did not see a major change in the writing style or anything. Part Three felt more like Part One to me, I was able to get through it quickly.

(some spoiles below)

I originally found Emma to be an annoying character, but as I thought more about her I do not think all of it is her fault. She does have unrealistic expectations of what love and marriage are, but she had very little exposure to either growing up. She has a selfish nature that leads her to not be able to see beyond her own immediate desires to the wants or needs of others, but it seems that she was raised that way. In a lot of ways, I felt like her father should have held more of the blame for some of the ways that Emma approached life.

I felt that Charles was a little foolish as well for not seeing what was going on in his household right under his nose, but as I thought more about him I felt that his upbringing probably had an effect as well. His mother seems to be the stronger willed of his parents (or maybe the one whose influence affected him the most) and seems to be in charge of a lot of things. So it may not have been noteworthy to him that Emma wanted to be in charge of the finances. As much as he seemed to dislike his father, he seemed to have become his father. He focused on his own pursuits, particularly related to his work, and decided to not look too closely at Emma's actions.

The true victim in all of this was Charles and Emma's child. Her parents seemed to have little or no interest in her or her well-being. While both parents focused and died for their own "loves" or "passions," she ended up alone and working at a young age to support herself. While Emma's "loves" all moved on; her daughter paid the price for Emma's mistakes. As a parent myself, I think this is the one part or aspect of the book that really struck me hard.
CraftyTJ avatar reviewed Madame Bovary on + 381 more book reviews
A book about a doctor's wife whose bordom with her "average" husband and life leads her into a woman whose morals decay with each affair she has, each lie she tells, each thing she steals. She eventually spirils down, out-of-control.
Want fewer ads?