Since my US Weekly never came this week, I finally pushed through and finished Gustave Flaubert's masterpiece about class, society and a woman who is actually more emotionally fucked up than yours truly.
(warning: probable spoilers if you've never read this classic)
Called by one review "the most controlled and beautifully articulated formal masterpiece in the history of fiction," Madame Bovary centers around the daughter of a farmer who has illusions of grandeur, but ends up marrying a mediocer country doctor and living in the rural French countryside with him and their daughter. She eventually takes numerous lovers out of frustration and boredom, goes crazy, runs up enormous debt, and finally kills herself with a handful of arsenic.
LESSON #1 FROM M.BOVARY: Do not commit suicide using arsenic! Your death will be long, painful and tediously dramatic for anyone reading about it.
The novel *is* beautifully written and once the sex starts up (which Bobby Crocker promised would happen "soon" when I started the novel but which didn't actually happen until around page 163, not that I was counting) the reader's pace will definitely increase (ha ha.) Sure, the end is depressing as hell, but very accurately portrays a universal truth: [credit card] debt may possibly kill you but can definitely force a someone into prostitution.
Consider this quote from a SparkNotes review:
"Emma’s prostitution is the result of her self-destructive spending, but the fact that, as a woman, she has no other means of finding money is a result of the misogynistic society in which she lives"
Thank god I have other means of finding money. (Note to self: call parents tonight.)
In referring this book to me, I think Bobby Crocker had a secret scheme that, finding Emma's personality flaws so like my own, I would be scared into changing some of my negative habits. Well, he was RIGHT! No more frivolous spending, no more romantic wistfulness over past lovers that were, at most, mediocre both physically and emotionally, no more excessive vanity (teeth)...and no more eating arsenic on my evening vanilla ice cream.
Madame Bovary: Read it, love it, learn from it.
And finally, the "big picture" lesson (also from SparkNotes): Flaubert "shows us a realistic portrayal of one of the most disappointing aspects of the world—that the mediocre and the selfish often fare better than either those who live passionately and try to be exceptional or those who live humbly and treat others with kind generosity."
Word to Flaubert.