Jeanette "Astute Crabbist"'s Reviews > Madame Bovary

Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert
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Mar 13, 2008

did not like it
bookshelves: did-not-work-for-me

Oy, the tedium, the drudgery of trying to read this book! I tried to get into this story. Really, I did. It's a classic, right? And everyone else likes it. I kept making myself continue, hoping I could get into the story and figure out what's supposed to be so good about it.
I won't waste any more of my precious reading time on this. It's about a self-absorbed young wife who longs for anyone else's life except her own. When she's in the city, she dreams of the farm. When she's in the country, she dreams of the city. When she's at a social gathering she imagines that everyone else's life is so much more exciting than her own. Blah, blah, blah.
Too many wordy descriptions of what people were wearing, what the buildings looked like, etc. If you're going to take a long time to tell a story, it had better be a good story. This one is NOT!
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Kristine Oy this is my book clubs next book. I read it in college and don't recall being annoyed but maybe older eyes will see things differently.


Jeanette  "Astute Crabbist" I'm sure you'll like it just fine. If the reviews here on goodreads are any indication, I have the minority opinion on this book. I kept trying so hard to like it that I gave myself a headache! I'm a fairly patient reader, but I have no use for lengthy descriptions and digressions that add nothing to the story.



message 46: by M (new) - rated it 1 star

M Well, I had the same experience as you, Generic. I kept reading, hoping *something* would redeem this novel, and it just got worse as it went on. I read the 800+ page Anna Karenina and it felt like a fresh (short!) breeze compared to Madame Bovary, which felt twice as long at less than half the length.


Jeanette  "Astute Crabbist" Hi M,
The one good thing I learned from this book is that I don't have to keep trying to like a book just because it's a classic. If I hate it after 30 or 40 pages, I'm still going to hate it after 100 pages!


Danelle25 I agree.


Robin Dale Meyers Jeanette - thank you. You said what I didn't want to say! I know sometimes the language of the classics are too dense for my brain, and I wonder if that was part of the problem here. But if I have to endure endless descriptions of environment and clothing, I'd simply rather watch Downton Abby and get the visual immediately. I put the book down on page 84.


Jeanette  "Astute Crabbist" Robin wrote: "I put the book down on page 84."

Not a minute too soon! Good point about being able to get an immediate visual here in our modern age. Back then people liked to read stuff like this because they had no other option for relating to places they'd never visit.


message 40: by Feefi (new)

Feefi It has taken me months to read this book because I kept leaving it and coming back to it and having to re-read where I left off, it was a real struggle but I kind of have a problem not finishing books I start so I was determined, specially as this is deemed such an important work. Don't get me wrong I can appreciate what he has done, but for me reading it in this era, it was hard work and I had no interest in the long passages about the scenes and the lives and conversations of the village folk that interspersed the plot lines. I get that that is one of the points of the book, that all these parts are so detailed and accurately reflective of life in that place at that time and might be interesting historically, but I was only interested to find out what happened to Madame Bovary. Flaubert is very clever to tap into and articulate some human behaviours and characteristics so well, but by the end I was so annoyed with her and her antics. She was just off her rocker. I also found some of it difficult to understand. Even by the end I still hadn't learnt the names as they seemed similar and confusing so I only knew who was who when he referred to them as the pharmacist, the gravedigger, etc. I also didn't realise when they were having sex until later on!!! i.e. when it said 'she gave herself to him' in the field or when they go on the long cab ride with the curtains drawn. I guess that was how you wrote a sex scene in those days. And when they did the clubfoot operation it took me a while to work out whether they were talking about operating on a man or a horse! I'm not dumb and I read a lot but this was a tough read for me!


message 39: by Feefi (new)

Feefi I thought this line was beautiful though: But to speak ill of those we love always requires of us a certain degree of detachment. We should never maltreat our idols: the gilding rubs off on our fingers.”


Jeanette  "Astute Crabbist" Nice quote Feefi. I don't think I got far enough in to see that line.
Definitely a confusing novel. Some of these old ones almost require us to take notes, or have a Cliff's Notes handy!


Ziyanda Xaso could not agree with you more! i have no patience for this woman and will not devote a minute more of my life to her ingratitude!


message 36: by Lela (new) - rated it 1 star

Lela You all have made me feel so much better! I read the book years ago and hated it from the start. It was a class assignment so I really couldn't just toss it in the trash. In the report I wrote, I quoted Emma's words...."manure, manure, manure.". My professor was not amused!


Jeanette  "Astute Crabbist" Ha ha, Lela. Your prof should have been glad that you paid attention to the dialogue. ;-)


message 34: by Carrie (new)

Carrie Mason This book irratated me too. I can't handle women whining about their lives and then making excuses for their poor decisions on account of boredom. Find a decent hobby or maybe pay attention to your kid! Hmmm. Grow up be an adult and take responsibility for yourself.


Kekuni Minton Perhaps you missed the point. Flaubert makes fun of his heroine, he doesn't like her either. How Flaubert broke the mold was by getting into the heads of his characters, even though NOT identifying with them. Emma is a flimsy character---flimsy, bourgeois, narcissistic. In fact all the characters are shallow. And Flaubert wanted you to notice that there is a lot of that going around!!


Artificialbrain I 100% agree with you. This book is boring, it's all about a bored girl


message 31: by Jeanette (new) - added it

Jeanette Totally agree with you. I read it because it was my book clubs choice, but I'll look forward to giving my review. Its 18th century chick lit at its worst. Just because some people call it a classic doesn't make it one.


Laura Herzlos Well, I would say that just because you didn't like it, it doesn't make it any less of a classic. I didn't totally love this book, but it IS a classic.
Classics are not for everybody, because we all have different tastes.
Now, Flaubert never intended for this to be a pretty story. Some classics should be read with a little of the brain located in "back then", to properly understand. However, if it is not your cup of tea, nobody says that you should read classics just because some people think that everyone should read the classics. There are tons of other books that may suit your taste better. Reading should not be a chore, but a pleasure!


message 29: by Olfaach (new)

Olfaach C'est le livre de Gustave Flobert bande d'ignorants!! vous vous êtes attendu à quoi en exact ? c'est un romancier donc évidement ses livres seront d'une telle longueur


Laura Herzlos Olfaach wrote: "vous vous êtes attendu à quoi en exact ?"

Moi, je m'aurais attendu à une meilleure orthographie de quelqu'un qui nous appelle bande d'ignorants...


Nadine Lumley I felt the same, I thought the book super boring and tedious and was taking me forever, but I was determined to slog though it, once she started her first affair it started going much easier and I began to find some parts very funny and hilarious, so my advice is to stick with it.


Erika Hernández How can you all people say this? A classic is a book that lasts forever. The words are beautiful and the theme is, as if it were written in our era. People that have everything and never appreciate anything. Just like you guys are doing now.
It makes me laugh, because I totally understand that people like you are expecting something easy and with poor content like all these American best sellers.


Matea I completely agree with absolutely everything you just said and I'm aware of my not being well educated but I really can't see what is the big deal about this book!?


message 24: by Gwen (new) - rated it 5 stars

Gwen Lin This is ironic and funny, for Madame Bovary is exactly the kind of book Emma Bovary herself would find tedious.


Nettie I actually like what you dislike. I guess our differences make the world go around.


Meagen Hudson I'm with you on this book! I remember a whole chapter was devoted to descriptions of the food, decorations, and clothing that people were wearing at her wedding....I skimmed most of that! I put the book down halfway through it.


Meagen Hudson ...and for the comment above about people who don't like this book must just read poorly written "best sellers" - way to make a blanket statement about people just because they didn't love this book. I do read some of those "best sellers" along with YA novels, but I also read classic lit. People can have differing opinions without being ridiculed.


message 20: by Cillian (last edited Sep 19, 2015 09:39PM) (new) - added it

Cillian Meagen wrote: "People can have differing opinions without being ridiculed."

It's called book snobs; GoodReads is filled to the brim with literary elitists. Fail to like a classic, and your thread will be swarming with idiots like Erika, or Kekuni. They'll question your reading abilities; assume you only read Hunger Games and Fifty Shades; will give you a solid remainder of how you "missed the point" followed by a tedious, unrequited explanation of what the REAL point of the book was (who gave them that much authority? What makes them think they know what the point is, and why a book must always have a point?). And, of course, they will gleefully fill the comment box with cheap condescension.
Book snobs should be locked in a cage at the bottom of the ocean.


message 19: by Jeanette (new) - added it

Jeanette I agree totally with you Tsunami!


Erika Hernández LOL. Relax. Reading is for fun! To feel and identify ourselves with an era or the caharacters. And to learn that we all are different. Recommend a book then, bring it!


Erika Hernández LOL. Relax. Reading is for fun! To feel and identify ourselves with an era or the caharacters. And to learn that we all are different. Recommend a book then, bring it!


Erika Hernández LOL. Relax. Reading is for fun! To feel and identify ourselves with an era or the caharacters. And to learn that we all are different. Recommend a book then, bring it!


Erika Hernández LOL. Relax. Reading is for fun! To feel and identify ourselves with an era or the caharacters. And to learn that we all are different. Recommend a book then, bring it!


Erika Hernández LOL. Relax. Reading is for fun! To feel and identify ourselves with an era or the caharacters. And to learn that we all are different. Recommend a book then, bring it!


message 13: by Cillian (new) - added it

Cillian Erika wrote: "LOL. Relax. Reading is for fun! To feel and identify ourselves with an era or the caharacters. And to learn that we all are different. Recommend a book then, bring it! "

You posted your comment 5 times. If you want book recommendations, check the GR recs page.


La Dame Noire I haven't even read the book yet, but just to comment on the issue: I think that people are equally free to like a book or hate a book. Not liking a classic does not mean one cannot properly judge a book, and reading contemporary best-sellers certainly does not mean one is wasting his/her time.

Books are written to be liked by people, yes, the authors would very much want their work to be applauded (speaking from experience) but they are also written to be judged. And although people tend to be harsh when it comes to criticizing, I do not believe that books are 100% loved or hated.

Just sayin'. :P

Oh, and I liked the term 'book snobs'. Should be put on Merriam-Webster's.


message 11: by Joshua (new)

Joshua This is funny.I will admit that the first time I read this book I felt exact same way. But once you understand that this is not necessarily just about a simple story maybe you might appreciate it more.However you may not but still, I found this way too funny. "Too many wordy descriptions of what people were wearing, what the buildings looked like, etc. If you're going to take a long time to tell a story, it had better be a good story. This one is NOT!"


message 10: by Nostromo (new) - added it

Nostromo Jeanette -- understand you didn't finish the book?


Laura I have a problem with this book because Flaubert describes things way too much and he is very unsympathetic. I don't like his writing.


Jessi Golden Perhaps you had a bad translation? I've read this in three different translations and each one was very different.


Silvio no, dude you r so off point, reed the whole thing and you will see what it is all about


message 6: by Cillian (new) - added it

Cillian Silvio wrote: "no, dude you r so off point, reed the whole thing and you will see what it is all about"

Reading uppity lectures on "how to read a book properly" by someone who's still fumbling over basic grammar and spelling never ceases to amuse me.


message 5: by Hannah (new)

Hannah Kohnen I hated Emma and even though I tried to like the story. It was all so tragic and first of all she dies which was predictable but then the husband and the daughter has to work in a factory. Come on, I like sad endings but this one escalated to quickly. First it was all about descriptions of dresses and landscapes and then Boom a tragedy that came to fast in my opinion
Still a 3 out of 5, for gustave Flaubert


Paula Fontrubí Just because you don't like it it does not make it a bad story, it's a perfectly good story and, in fact, a masterpiece of literature. I've been reading all of your comments and I'm shocked that nobody seems to get the point of the book. It's not just about Madame Bovary (even though she is the main character) it's about human condition in general and women situation at that particular period of time. I think it's a shame that you despise the character of Emma Bovary just because she was arrogant and self-absorbed. That's precisely whats good about this character, she's not a plain "heroine" she is a female in that difficult time period for woman with all of what this implies. She is intelligent, witty and probably a better person than all of her neighbours PS: And if you can't stand Flaubert's meticulous descriptions and witty dialogues full of irony maybe you shouldn't expect to like any other "clasic" And thats good, you can not like clasics and yet like reading, but please don't blame it on the book. Don't blame it on you either. But don't be such ingnorant to say that this is a bad story.


message 3: by Cillian (new) - added it

Cillian The point of this book? You mean the book you haven't even finished reading yet? A book you haven't even rated or reviewed but defend so zealously?
And what is the point of the book, professor, since you seem to have all the answers?
You're very unpleasant; you're unfit to hold a debate. You get too carried away and outraged over someone's opinion on the internet. Perhaps you're new to all this, but you want to work on your over-emotional reactions in the future.
No one asked you to write a mini report on this book; you came to the wrong thread to do that. And your misuse of the word "ignorant" is indicative of how you shouldn't be taken slightly seriously.
An ignorant, my dear, is someone who has no knowledge on something; this reviewer wrote about what she read and knew. Considering this "masterpiece" a bad story is simply a matter of taste--something you'll see a lot on a reviewing site. You do understand what a reviewing site is, right?

"And thats good, you can not like clasics and yet like reading, but please don't blame it on the book."

Well, if I learned anything from your poorly spelled and punctuated comment is that you also can't read: where does she say she doesn't like classics? Where? And "don't blame it on the book?" What kind of idiotic comment is that? Of course you'll blame the book! The reader is not to blame for disliking something.

Please, before you come to pollute a thread with your childish disdain, work on your impulse control; reading skills, vocabulary, and grammar. And stay away from negative reviews since you clearly can't handle them.
Fool.


Carolina Gonzalez Hahaha it's okay The exact feeling happened to me but with Julio Cortazar's book "Rayuela" I could not understand why the hell everyone seems to love it.
Anyway, I thought I wouldn't like Madame Bovary either and I ended up putting 5 stars on it !!


message 1: by Cillian (new) - added it

Cillian Carolina wrote: "Hahaha it's okay The exact feeling happened to me but with Julio Cortazar's book "Rayuela" I could not understand why the hell everyone seems to love it.
Anyway, I thought I wouldn't like Madame Bo..."


Oh, man. Rayuela, "Hopscotch," was also a sour encounter for me. Something that required extra amount of patience I didn't have at the time. I was sold on the idea of alternating chapters, or paragraphs, I forget (playing hopscotch, I guess?) to get one story, or reading it straight from beginning to end...not sure if you can also read it back to front; but it didn't work.
Same as the Ulysses, it's on my list of books I want to be able to finish some day, but likely won't. :(


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