I have a lot of time for Madame Bovary, both character and novel. It’s by no means the oldest book in my collection (ahem, Shakespeare; I see you there, Chaucer) or the longest (Tolstoy, Thackeray), but it’s one of the first I developed affection for on my own.
I could write a thousand words on why I like it, but I won’t. Not today, anyway. I’ll save that for a rainy weekend, though considering the way the rain has been of late that might come sooner than I think.
(If you would like a crash course in why I like this novel, you can go here. Please pardon the hallucinated-German ramblings.)
This is the first time I’ve done this – drawn a quote from a book. So, quick context: it is shortly after Emma and Charles’ wedding. He is content, she is not so much. Here, Flaubert begins laying the groundwork of tedium which is a running theme. Already Emma is longing for more.
It seemed to her that certain parts of the world must produce happiness, as they produce peculiar plants which will flourish nowhere else. Why could she not now be leaning on the balcony of a Swiss chalet, or immuring her sadness in a Scotch cottage, with a husband in a black velvet coat with long flaps, and soft boots, and peaked hat, and ruffles!
She would have been glad of someone in whom to confide all this; but how to describe an intangible unease, that shifts like the clouds and eddies like the wind? Lacking the words, she had neither the opportunity nor the courage.
Nevertheless, had Charles so wished, had he guessed, had his eyes once read her thoughts, it would have instantly delivered her heart of a rich load, as a single touch will bring the ripe fruit falling from the tree. But as their outward familiarity grew, she began to be inwardly detached, to hold herself more aloof from him.
Charles’ conversation was as flat as a street pavement, on which everybody’s ideas trudged past, in their workaday dress, provoking no emotion, no laughter, no dreams. At Rouen, he said, he had never had any desire to go and see a Paris company at the theatre. He couldn’t swim, or fence, or fire a pistol, and as unable to explain a riding term she came across in a novel one day.