Madame Bovary

  • by Gustave Flaubert, Lydia Davis (translator)
  • Narrated by Kate Reading
  • 13 hrs and 46 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

Set amid the stifling atmosphere of 19th-century bourgeois France, Madame Bovary is at once an unsparing depiction of a woman’s gradual corruption and a savagely ironic study of human shallowness and stupidity. Neither Emma, nor her lovers, nor Homais, the man of science, escapes the author’s searing castigation, and it is the book’s final profound irony that only Charles, Emma’s oxlike, eternally deceived husband, emerges with a measure of human grace through his stubborn and selfless love.
With its rare formal perfection, Madame Bovary represents, as Frank O’Connor has declared, “possibly the most beautifully written book ever composed; undoubtedly the most beautifully written novel…a book that invites superlatives…the most important novel of the century.”

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

Ironic, humorous, and restrained

This is one of Kate Reading's better narrations, and the material could not be more compelling. Translated by Lydia Davis (master short story writer!), the book is both light and tragic, humorous and disturbing, emotional and cerebral. Flaubert is one of the few who can do that. The tragedy of Emma and the triumphs of Homais are delicately rendered in this smart translation.

Reading reads with perfect inflections, making Emma sound airy and "arty," Charles slow and pitiful, Leon slippery, etc. No silly attempts at trying to sound male; just excellent infusions of the character's personality into his/her voice to make him/her sound believable. The speed is just right. I've heard other narrations by Kate Reading and some don't match up in quality or direction.

The writing style seems so effortless and light that you almost think Flaubert knocked it out with the wave of a hand, but as you keep listening, you realize what a brilliantly composed, tightly plotted piece this is. Also superb is Davis's introduction in the print version. It's not in the audio version, but if you can get your hands on a print (or digi) copy, by all means, read!
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- Esther

Prose exquisitely mines a range of emotions

Some may not like the nature of the story (and/or its ending). This is no feel-good story, not a "David Copperfield" (which I love). Perhaps, by now, many people realize the basic substance of the story but do not expect its ending. Lydia Davis' prose is exquisite though there are times the audible version differs from the written book.

The novel was ground-breaking in any number of ways, not the least of which is the well of human emotions that surge through one while reading it. The clunky translations of the past took away from the novel and the experience of all of the sadness, anger, disgust, contempt, pity and shame accentuated in this edition.

The narrator does an excellent job both in portraying the pathos of Emma Bovary and in stoking the listener's contempt for her.
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- W Perry Hall

Book Details

  • Release Date: 09-23-2010
  • Publisher: Penguin Audio