Monday, August 29, 2011

Reader's Diary #756- Gustave Flaubert: A Simple Heart

Today's short story comes from 19th century French author, Gustave Flaubert, best known (amongst English readers anyway) for his novel Madame Bovary-- but I haven't read it.

Instead I've decided to try "A Simple Heart," a short story from Three Tales, first published in 1877. "A Simple Heart" begins with a matter-of-fact tone and with rather depressing facts at that. It's about a servant named Felicity, who it would appear at first glance is a downtrodden, some would think boring, woman-- simple, but not in the "stupid" sense as it is sometimes used.

Yet slowly Flaubert reveals the details of her life and while the details are maybe not the excitement of a spy novel or trashy romance, her life revealed itself to be interesting nonetheless, and Felicity grew on me. There are tragic moments, but there the moments leading up to them, somehow seemed worth it.

I found myself thinking of the Wizard of Oz (film, not the book) as I read it. (It's certainly not fantastical, so don't read it expecting munchkins or witches!) Remember how it started out in black in white but was suddenly full of unexpected colour the moment Dorothy landed in Oz? I think "A Simple Heart" begins the same way, but the colour bleeds in so gradually you hardly notice that it's happened.

(Did you write a post for Short Story Monday? If so, please leave a link in the comments below.)


Julie @ Read Handed said...

The story you described sounds beautiful. I haven't read Madame Bovary, either, though I've heard it's good. I read "The Story of an Hour" by Kate Chopin today.

Anonymous said...

It does sounds like a lovely story. I liked the Wizard of Oz comparison.

My post is up, too.

Teddy Rose said...

Your reviews keep getting better and better John! I loved the comparison to The Wizard of Oz, "the colour bleeds in so gradually you hardly notice that it's happened."

I marked it to read. I read Madame Bovary before my blogging days but here is what I posted on about it:

Good, but depressing. The heirons from 19th century novels always seem to meet the same end, like "bad" girls in slasher movies. LOL!

My review this week wont surprise you: