In Madame Bovary, one of the great novels of 19th-century France, Flaubert draws a deeply felt and sympathetic portrait of a woman who, having married a country doctor and found herself unhappy with a rural, genteel existence, longs for love and excitement. However, her aspirations and her desires to escape only bring her further disappointment and eventually lead to unexpected, painful consequences. Flaubert’s critical portrait of bourgeois provincial life remains as powerful as ever.
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Public Domain (P)2014 Naxos AudioBooks
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"Excellent narrator, beautiful writing"
Juliet Stevenson is such an excellent narrator. Her readings are at a perfect pace and her character interpretations are always wonderful. Ms. Stevenson's understanding of the text and intelligence make listening a joy. I become so lost in the characters she portrays that I forget it is one person reading! Can't say Emma Bovary is a favorite character, but her self-centeredness and vacuousness come through in the dialogue as read by the narrator.
I can understand why this novel is so well known. The writing (and this translation) draw you in. But the characters are not sympathetic and I don't understand why Emma Bovary is so empty and why she expresses no remorse at the end of the novel. I feel for her clueless husband and especially for her daughter Berthe.
"It's such a 19th century classic."
firstly, it's one of those books that you simply must read in your life.
why? because if you are a true literary buff - you need to know your basics - and this novel (along with: crime and punishment, portrait of a lady, father guiro and such) is what it is....
Secondly, the novel has all the traits a classic novel has: too many characters, too detailed of a story, long period of time, you can really picture and vividly imagine the surroundings down to the petal color of the daisies.
....so it's a bit tedious at points, not to mention a tiny bit boring, long and over-bearing, but again, it's basics, so you must go thru it, and it's not that bad once you see the beauty in it.
thirdly, the narrator, is fabulous!
the story came alive, and i found myself liking or disliking the characters as Mrs. Stevenson went on.
so to summarize: it's good to have this book in your repertoire, but if you are looking for an easy-read (easy-listening in this case) you might not find what you are looking for.
"News Flash: A Masterpiece"
Gorgeous voice. There are a couple of minor editing mistakes in this audio version -- two or three times we'd have a sentence repeated -- but she brings a combination of elegance and clarity that really adds to the experience.
I think I thought I’d read Bovary a long time ago. That’s probably because I have read Anna Karenina (and to a lesser extent Chekhov’s “Lady with a Dog”), the other great adulterous novel of the mid-19th century, and I have also read Flaubert’s “A Simple Heart” (in French, no less, thank you Madames Nichols et Bork). It’s also because it’s so entwined in other literature and art that you feel you know it already. It casts the kind of light that makes you think you’ve spent more direct time on it than you have.
So, news flash: this is really good. Flaubert has the gift of the great sentence (even in translation) that he’s famous for. He’ll find the perfect detail or the perfect metaphor. Or, other times, he’ll find the perfect sentence to sum up reveries of one sort or another, and often that sentence will turn what’s come before it on its head.
If Tolstoy is the great Romantic, celebrating the passion that drives Anna’s unhappiness forward, then Flaubert is already a Modernist, someone as intrigued by irony as by the subject before him. That’s true with many of those staggering sentences, of course (he’s like a master painter with brush strokes that speak a consistent language apart from and yet constituting the work as a whole) but it’s also true of his view of Emma. I’d always assumed that we’d be called to root for Emma, that she would be (as Anna in many ways is) a proto-feminist figure whose unhappiness demonstrates the need to reimagine the role of women in society. I think it’s possible to read this that way, but I’m not convinced Flaubert was polemicizing. (And Tolstoy, great as he was, generally was polemicizing about something.)
Instead, I think we are often supposed to judge Emma. I think we are supposed to see her as self-centered and, to take an old-fashioned word then current, immoral. She is scandalous, and she leaves destruction in her wake. Flaubert seems unafraid of her sexuality – there’s great passion here, and it’s fun to imagine the good people of the 1860s and 1870s shocked by its explicit scenes – but he’s also unafraid to judge it. Sure, Charles is a dope, a mediocrity who can’t match her beauty or her intelligence, but we seem to be told here that everything would have turned out all right if only she’d managed to make herself satisfied with what she had. She had the materials for happiness before her, but she had to keep pushing, had to grab for more than was her allotted share.
Anyway, I have almost nothing original to say about this, but then I doubt I’d have anything original to say about visiting the Louvre, something I still hope to do some day. In each case, we’re talking about masterpieces, so there’s nothing wrong with just standing before them, mouth slightly agape, and admiring what’s there.
"An interesting take on morality"
Fairly high. I liked the performance, and while I hated the heroine, the story was good.
When Emma suffers for what she has done. I didn't like her much.
I liked her inflections for the various characters. It brought things to life. Also, I am terrible at imagining French pronunciations!
I may or may not have hissed "YESSSS!" when she was indicted.
Does disliking Emma make me a bad feminist?
"Stevenson is amazing! Flaubert ... not so much"
Juliet Stevenson is the BEST reader I've ever heard on an audiobook (and I've been listening for a year or more). She takes on many voices, she reads with grace and elegance, and she gives full characterization to situations and people in the narrative. The story, however, is painfully tedious. I never would have finished reading this book myself -- I would have tossed it across the room. But, listening to Stevenson made some pleasure out of a tedious tale. I'm looking to see if she's read anything worth hearing.
This was a wonderful read. I will seek more books by Gustave Flaubert! It is a vacation into another world and another time.
So we all know this is one of the greatest books of all time. I'm not going to add to that.
What I can tell you is that Juliet Stevenson gives a truly fantastic narration that is perfectly suited to the book. I enjoyed her performance immensely.
My only concern is that the book notes don't say anything about the translation and I suspect this may not be the greatest translation of the original. It's the only one I've read, so take this with a few grains of salt, but my understanding is that the difference between a good and bad translation of this book is noticeable.
Great narration of an exceptional text. The story speaks for itself and Stevenson does a nice job.
"Can't look away..."
A slow train wreck. My interest in the book increased from indifferent to "can't look away" as the story progressed. I liked it.
"Wonderful classic story, well told"
The story takes a long time to set up. I almost gave up at the halfway point. However, when the action begins it is a roller coaster to the end. Juliette Stevenson is excellent, as usual.
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