When I first read it, I pitied Emma Bovary. How stuck she was in her world! What a victim of circumstance! True, she made wrong decisions. But she was trapped in a relationship that bored her.
On this read, I hated her. She made stupid decision after stupid decision. She did not have the ability to love, either her husband, her child, or her lovers. She thought she loved Rudolphe, but from my perspective she lusted, not loved. It was a selfish escape from her boredom. She was naïve and selfish beyond measure. Her husband was doting and kind, and she saw only the negative aspects of his personality. Her husband was, of course, imperfect: that was all she saw.
I wonder if this different perspective is related to my own situation a little. Tomorrow is my fifth wedding anniversary; I realize a little better now than I did two and a half years ago that marriage is always a give situation. You must give of yourself to find joy. A marriage is not each partner giving 50%: it is each person giving 100%, and loving unconditionally. I saw as I read Madame Bovary this time that she gave nothing back. She expected everything and as a result felt she got nothing. Her selfish stupidity meant I felt no pity for her.
Regardless of Emma Bovary’s stupidity, I still greatly enjoyed Gustave Flaubert’s wonderfully written book. Lydia Davis’ new translation was marvelous. Reading Madame Bovary reminded me how grateful I am for my loving husband and for our relationship.
And happy anniversary to Mr. Reid! (He doesn’t read my blog, but I can still say it here.)
I had never before read a biography of Charles Dickens, but having read 7½ works by the author, I’ve generated a good idea of the issues that are important to him.
Andrea Warren’s new biography for young readers wonderfully captures the man and his stories. Although Charles Dickens and the Street Child of London (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, to be published September 26, 2011) was a short book, I finished it was a greater appreciation and understanding for Charles Dickens, an eagerness to read the rest of Dickens’ novels, and above all else, a desire to do something myself, for Charles Dickens’ story of social change inspires others to do something to make a difference.
For anyone who thinks fiction unimportant, they should read the story of Charles Dickens’ life and writing career. (more…)
Previously by Allan Ahlberg, illustrated by Bruce Ingman is a different type of fairy tale. It goes backwards, showing that each nursery rhyme or fairy tale characters came from somewhere else. showing the effect of the action before showing the action.
It begins, for example, with Goldilocks:
Goldilocks arrived home all bothered and hot.
And of course we then learn where Goldilocks has come from. She had previously met another familiar character, Jack, who had met Jill, who had met the frog prince, who had met Cinderella, and so forth. Each favorite nursery rhyme or fairy tale has an origin, eventually returning to them being babies.
I enjoyed the very different approach to these favorite stories, although the concept was a little too challenging for Raisin’s 3-year-old mind. The illustrations were bright and child-like, yet detailed enough to add life to the story of what happens before the Once Upon a Time, or in other words, previously. While Raisin didn’t “get it,” we still enjoyed reading it together. We had some good discussions about cause and effect, and I think it would a fun book to grow with. The words have a non-rhymed rhythm that makes it fun to read aloud, and the ending sounds beautiful and poetic.
Highly recommended for a creative child or adult.
Note: Previously was published by Candlewick Press, 2007; I read a library copy of the book.
I’m a part of two books clubs. The first is a classics book club that meets at the library, and I lead the discussion every month. I don’t have any trouble thinking of ideas for that book club. We have great discussions and it’s nice to befriend other classics readers in the community.
I’m also a part of what I call (with all respect and love) a “brownie book club,” a casual gathering of my friends for which we all read a book and discuss it as we eat treats. This casual book club is lots of fun for me. It’s mostly an excuse for me and my friends to get together, and while we do discuss the book at length (about a 45-minute discussion), we also enjoy visiting more than anything.
Although it’s not through my church, it’s comprised of friends from my church group, so we try to avoid books with uninspiring content or messages. Particularly, I don’t want to suggest a book that has lots of sexuality, swearing, drug use, or crude humor. Also, this is for the most part a conservative group, and given the variety of political thought among us (I do not consider myself conservative, more in the middle), I also want to avoid most political discussions.
All that said, here’s the list I’ve been compiling to suggest for the next year. I’m not really going to suggest all of these. I’m including ones I wouldn’t really suggest to this particular group or that we’ve already read, because I hope it can be a resource for you in your own book clubs too! Links below go to posts on Rebecca Reads. (more…)
Madame Bovary was a landmark book in the ways it blended romanticism and realism. Yet, its author, Gustave Flaubert despised the minutiae of everyday life, as well as the traditions and morals of society. The story of his life and how he, who despised realism, came to write a monumental novel of realism, is particularly interesting.
Francis Steegmuller wrote his classic biography Flaubert and Madame Bovary, which he calls a “double portrait,” in 1939. There were plenty of things I didn’t like, but this mostly was because of Gustave Flaubert himself. Mr. Steegmuller’s inclusion of lots of M. Flaubert’s personal correspondence gives the reader a better understanding of the author himself. I found this a great way to give the reader a feel for the author’s personality and his writing style. I’m glad I read Mr. Steegmuller biography before I begin rereading M. Flaubert’s most popular novel.