CURRENT BOOK:  Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert

After only two weeks, my patience is already wearing more than a little bit thin as far as my husband talking about his late mother and the things he keeps saying over and over to reassure himself.  At least he isn’t comatose with grief like I feared he would be, as much as he always dreaded losing his parents.  But still, when we went out to dinner on Saturday trying to use a coupon from one of those books sold as a fundraiser for a friends’ kid’s school, I had to ask him if he could put it aside for a while.  Not that dinner turned out that great because we walked out on the restaurant (and went to another restaurant) after they improperly poured our draft beer and then tried to cover it up by rinsing off the side of the glass and stirring the beer with a straw.  Actually it seems like very little has been working out for me the last few days, and I wasn’t even able to fully enjoy my junk food for lunch today that I shouldn’t have had, because my husband texted me with the schedule for the music festival the weekend we leave for Chicago-before-Ireland and it turns out the band we wanted to see is playing on Sunday instead of Saturday so we will be in Chicago and we will have to miss them.  And I purposely did one less day in Chicago and went to Chicago the weekend before Ireland thinking it was all going to be perfect!  Yes, yes, yes, I know I’m still going to the Cubs home opener wherein they will hoist the World Series pennant and I know I’m still going on (hopefully) a trip of a lifetime to a European location.  But still!  Just let me wallow in my disappointment, please!  I spent years in therapy learning to ACCEPT my weaknesses instead of beating myself up for them.

Even so, I guess you want to hear about Madame Bovary instead of hearing me rant.

No, despite that it is a “classic,” I never read Madame Bovary in literature class either in high school or while earning my college degree.  And I’m having a hard time understanding its place on The List from a feminist perspective, unless maybe it was to show how women were viewed by men during the time period when the novel was written.  In the case of Emma Bovary, she is a very weak character.  She has what would seem to be a comfortable life with a doctor who is smitten with her, however, she is not satisfied and falls into a downward spiral of financial debt and extramarital affairs.  I won’t be entirely spoiling the plot to say that things don’t end well for her, so perhaps it was intended as a cautionary tale.  Maybe at the time of Madame Bovary it was even harder to find contentment in one’s life when divorce was not socially acceptable (especially just as a matter of being bored with the relationship) and when instead of being able to run up your credit card and ignore the bill except to make the minimum payment, you had actual creditors banging on your door.  If the novel had been written by a woman I might be more likely to say that it reflected the feelings that many women had, even if they did not act on them, but I find it hard to believe that especially over 100 years ago, any man could understand the female experience, especially considering that men and women still struggle to understand each other in 2017.  It seems more likely that Madame Bovary was intended to show how women should NOT act and that they should be content with the marriages they have and the material possessions they have and should not take any chance of losing them.  A very patriarchal idea indeed.


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