Saturday, July 9, 2011

Madame Bovary's Daughter-Linda Urbach

Madame Bovary's Daughter
Linda Urbach
Bantam, Jul 26 2011, $15.00
ISBN: 9780385343879

In Yonville, France with the suicide of his beloved egomaniacal wife Emma, weak Charles Bovary feels he has no reason to live; as he totally ignores his twelve years old daughter Berthe. When he dies one year after Emma’s death in 1852, Berthe is left impoverished. However, the child learned plenty from her parents as to what to avoid. She vows to have a successful life by never becoming self indulged or destructive like her mother or pathetic destructive like her father.

Berthe moves in with her grandma on the latter’s impoverished farm. She desperately wants her grandmother’s approval as Berthe learns to do chores in the house and on the farm. However, her grandmother dies without giving Berthe what she desired. Berthe works long tedious hours at a Lille textile mill until the owner Monsieur Rappelais orders her to join his staff in Paris. Though she prefers to decline, she becomes a lady's maid to his wife Madame Rappelais who mentors her; while she also rejects any sexual trysts with either Rappelais; as that was the undoing of her mother. Instead she has new hope when she becomes apprentice to fashion designer Charles Frederick Worth and meets Armand.

This is a terrific sequel to the Flaubert classic as Linda Urbach tells the story of Madame Bovary’s orphaned daughter. The title character keeps the story line focuses as she romps through the second half of the nineteenth century in France. Though there is a well written romantic subplot, it is Mademoiselle Bovary’s French adventures that make for a strong historical.

Harriet Klausner

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