I've read this novel when I was just 14. It's one of the books we had to read in my class to discuss them afterwards.
Madame Bovary has been one of the few books I've been obliged to read that I really appreciated. At that time I didn't understand anything about love, passion and betrayals because I was still a child, and yet I had the impression that Flaubert had written a masterpiece.
I remember so clearly that when we chatted about the novel in my classroom, my literature professor joked about one of my classmates referring at her as "our Emma Bovary". The "bovarized" girl began to weep desperately accusing the professor to have called her a bitch and a whore. (Actually she wasn't, but she really had something of Emma in her own).
In the following ten years I've never read this novel again neither I've learnt that much about love, passion and betrayals. Then, days ago, I've heard a programme at the radio which was about Madame Bovary's character. The host and his guests were speculating on what would ever happened if Emma had met Sigmund Freud and so on.
That has made me recall the novel. And suddenly I've understood that I've met some Emmas in my life. I'm kind of a romantic and anachronistic guy who has always thought that there are few possibilities that a "true love" is reciprocal. But I've never considered "love" like something to avoid being just suffering, pain and fears.
At the opposite I do believe that this feeling could have a positive meaning if only some people would be able to accept it like it comes, without looking at it like a cancer.
Let's take Madame Bovary: she commits suicide because of too many failures. Her castles in the air are all fallen down. Her lovers have all abandoned her. Emma has always misunderstood what love should be, pretending to find romanticism in the worst and less romantic men around her while leaving behind the only one who really loved her.