The refusal to settle for what life has dealt you and the consequences of trying to change it is a theme which hasn't altered much in the last 150 years, and the astonishing beauty and challenge of Madame Bovary is as electric today as it was then.
Very few books have created this much outrage and adoration. The sympathetic treatment of Emma Bovary's attempts to escape the maddening boredom of being married to the wrong man, in the wrong town, with the wrong picture of her life via a series of very realistically described adulterous affairs, ensured that Gustave Flaubert had practically the whole of France involved in the hullabaloo that greeted the novel's publication in 1856.
He was prosecuted for it (unsuccessfully) and then wildly fêted for it, and his establishment as one of the most popular of literary geniuses is based on it. This book, in its famous translation by Eleanor Aveling - Karl Marx's daughter - carries a warning: Madame Bovary may cause excessive emotion and great disturbance to your life.
Public Domain (P)2008 Silksoundbooks Limited