Lydia Davis’s exceptionally readable new translation reawakens the story of Emma Bovary, a disillusioned and unhappily married woman who finds escape in adulterous relationships. Married to the oafish doctor Charles Bovary, whose naively optimistic intentions to make his beautiful wife happy only serve to annoy her, Emma labors under the constraints of nineteenth-century French bourgeois society. Flaubert’s is an unsparing study of a downward spiral driven by romantic obsession and the reckless pursuit of material and sexual gratification.
Years since reading Madame Bovary for the first time, I have had the story and its characters somewhere in the back of my mind; now, after having read this seamless translation, the novel’s effect is indelible. –Molly