Madame Bovary scandalized its readers when it was first published in 1857. And the story itself remains as fresh today as when it was first written, a work that remains unsurpassed in its unveiling of character and society. It tells the tragic story of the romantic but empty-headed Emma Rouault. When Emma marries Charles Bovary, she imagines she will pass into the life of luxury and passion that she reads about in sentimental novels and women's magazines. But Charles is an ordinary country doctor, and provincial life is very different from the romantic excitement for which she yearns. In her quest to realize her dreams she takes a lover, Rodolphe, and begins a devastating spiral into deceit and despair. And Flaubert captures every step of this catastrophe with sharp-eyed detail and a wonderfully subtle understanding of human emotions. Malcolm Bowie, a leading authority on French literature, explores Flaubert's genius in his masterly introduction to this must-have book for all lovers of great literature.