Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert Madame Bovary, originally published as Madame Bovary: Provincial Manners (French: Madame Bovary: Mœurs de province [madam b?va?i mœ?(s) d? p??v??s]), is the debut novel of French writer Gustave Flaubert, published in 1856. The eponymous character lives beyond her means in order to escape the banalities and emptiness of provincial life.
When the novel was first serialized in Revue de Paris between 1 October 1856 and 15 December 1856, public prosecutors attacked the novel for obscenity. The resulting trial in January 1857 made the story notorious. After Flaubert's acquittal on 7 February 1857, Madame Bovary became a bestseller in April 1857 when it was published in two volumes.
A seminal work of literary realism, the novel is now considered Flaubert's masterpiece, and one of the most influential literary works in history. The British critic James Wood writes: "Flaubert established, for good or ill, what most readers think of as modern realist narration, and his influence is almost too familiar to be visible."
Madame Bovary takes place in provincial Northern France, near the town of Rouen in Normandy. Charles Bovary is a shy, oddly dressed teenager arriving at a new school where his new classmates ridicule him.
He struggles his way to a second-rate medical degree, and becomes an Officier de santé in the Public Health Service. He marries the woman his mother has chosen for him, the unpleasant but supposedly rich widow Héloïse Dubuc. He sets out to build a practice in the village of Tôtes.
One day, Charles visits a local farm to set the owner's broken leg and meets his patient's daughter, Emma Rouault.