Madame Bovary of the Suburbs - Sophie Divry

Madame Bovary of the Suburbs, Sophie Divry, MacLehose Press, £14.99

As a fine study in boredom, the first few pages of this Madame Bovary could also be the last but there has to be a reason for the detailed portrait of a young woman who becomes old before our eyes.

Harking back to past times in France, the monotony, the melancholy… phrases her parents used but are today heard no more, we are walked along a memory lane of M.A.’s life.

The daily doings that have made her who she is, who she wants to be, and why she is not. That, plus the squeaky springs in her parents’ box bed.

Meeting boys and, later, men. Discovering a best friend in Chloé and having what, looking back, seems like the time of her life at university.

Then a forgotten photograph that, full of emotion, leaves you with a heavy heart and a punishing sense of loss. It was a time by the sea, a first time for lots of things: discoveries that included finding out that even something desired could lose its intensity in the heat of the moment.

That same feeling, years later, when enjoying an office colleague became a chance for another loss: a broken heart and, with it, redundancy.

A Bovary for our times, written by an author with a superb eye for shifts in society and the female life.

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