Things begin with an introduction to Charles Bovary as a boy and then quickly in the pace of just the first two chapters his life story has been filled in and developed to the stage that he has become a country doctor and a widower in a position to turn his attentions to the future Madame Bovary.
The introduction makes the points that although this novel was associated with the realism movement in France the author tried to distance himself from it. But the reason it has that feel is probably as a result of the decision to have an all seeing voice of narration that is quite happy to employ irony as a way of creating distance from the actions of the characters.
Bullet points between pages 1 – 60
* Straight from the start you are given the impression that Charles Bovary is average, if not bordering on the stupid, as he gets through school and medical college fulfilling the wishes of his parents more than himself
* He is forced into a marriage with a much older woman by his mother who thinks that she has a lot of money but things fall apart when her inheritance turns out to be next to nothing and the family argue with her and she is dead within a few days
* Already though Charles has his eye on someone else and Emma the daughter of one of his patients finally becomes his wife after the father welcomes the match and the innocent woman drifts into a life with Charles
* A picture is painted of Emma that reveals she is both naïve and independent with her convent days coming to an end that the nuns had not envisaged with the influence of romantic fiction having a negative impact on her
* Things start to go wrong after Charles and his wife are invited to a ball that starts a series of day dreams for Emma that are all centered around the idea of changing her life, improving it, and seeking some entertainment away from safe and limited Charles
* Emma starts to hate her husband and as the year clocks round and no repeat invite comes for the ball she starts to give up on life and spends her time loathing her husband and her life