The Next Chapter·Dog-Eared Reads

Why Sharon Butala believes the classic novel Madame Bovary is more relevant today than ever

Sharon Butala discusses how the 1856 masterpiece novel by Gustave Flaubert continues to hold meaning to today's women.
One of Sharon Butala's favourite books is Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert. (Alma, Tali Shany)

Sharon Butala is a Saskatchewan-based writer who is an officer of the Order of Canada and a three-time Governor General's Literary Award nominee. Her books include the memoir Where I Live Now and the novels Zara's Dead and Wild Rose.

The classic novel Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert is a book — with its themes of love, desire and femininity — that Butala finds herself reading over and over again.

"This book never gets old because we might be that person who Madame Bovary is. The book is about women whose role in life is not satisfying to them and that's partly because of cultural constraints. At different ages, it's different things. For me, at my age, it's ageism.

"In those days, Madame Bovary wanted some sense of fulfillment. She had no other way of achieving it, except in terms of going after wealth. That meant a rich man. She wanted excitement, she wanted glamour and we all still want that. We are all blighted, stopped in so many ways because the world still belongs to men."

Sharon Butala's comments have been edited for length and clarity.


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