Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Madame Bovary's Daughter

Madame Bovary's Daughter
Linda Urbach

I'm going to state that I have a love/hate relationship with this book. I loved the time period, the dresses, the money, the (mostly) plot. I liked the way that Urbach wrote and described everything. I hated Berthe, the main character. I hated the way that her life was so horrible, yet it always worked out for her. Most importantly, I HATED the ending. I thought that it was the worst ending to any novel ever. I couldn't tell what the climax was, either. There were about 50 of them. 

It's the story of Emma Bovary's daughter. Emma Bovary being Madame Bovary from Gustave Flaubert's novel. I honestly have no idea why I picked up this book. I was walking through the stacks at the library and I just reached out and picked this up. I had no idea who Madame Bovary was (other than hearing the name) but I liked the pretty green dress on the cover. I tend to, very literally, judge a book by it's cover, and this one looked nice. I'm going to spoil the entire book in the next paragraph, so proceed with caution.

I have this thing against protagonists who have everything fall perfectly into their laps despite having to "work hard" to obtain it. This book was one that fell into that category. Poor Berthe's mother committed suicide by arsenic and her father died a year later, a cliche, of a broken heart. That was Flaubert's fault (I'm assuming since I'm currently only on page 48 of Madame Bovary). Anyway, Berthe goes to move with her mean old grand-mere on a farm, the painter Millet paints her naked in a field. Grand-mere dies. Berthe moves to another part of France and works in a textile mill. The owner of the mill thinks that Berthe is amazing and offers for her to work in his house in Paris. She refuses at first and then changes her mind and works for the guy. His wife is a crazed bisexual bored housewife. She molests Berthe and then lets (timeline- sorry if I suck at explaining this) this old guy who used to be the paramour of her mother, rape Berthe. Then Berthe freaks out and quits. She's poor and destitute for a millisecond and then she meets up with this other guy who is a famous dress maker. Berthe is awesome and makes this man so much money and even more famous with her dress designs. Berthe is rich. Berthe saves enough money to buy a house (which is unheard of in those days for a woman to own a house). Along the way, Berthe starts dating this guy, Armand, who was commissioned to paint a mural for the lady that molested Berthe. They have a whole bunch of raunchy sex scenes, she gets pregnant and he ends up cheating on her with some famous actress that Berthe made dresses for. Berthe is betrayed, yet she raises her baby, Emma, go figure, alone and in her new house. She doesn't reconcile with Armand and the book ends with Armand coming to Emma's second birthday and they just smile at each other and everything is peachy.

I think that the ending had to happen that way, because so much had already happened in the book. I did like the book. It made me want to read Madame Bovary, so that's always a good thing to inspire me. So I liked it, read it. You don't need to read the original to understand what's going on. There is a lot of sex. Like 50 Shades minus that disgusting tampon scene that will scar me forever. Sorry to put that in your mind again.

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