Sunday, October 6, 2013

Book Review - Flaubert's Parrot by Julian Barnes

Having just finished a lovely Mexican dinner of fajita chicken sauteed with crimini mushrooms, red bell peppers, onions, black beans and rice, plus tortilla chips, I now sit at my desk and type out yet another book review for you, the readers, to enjoy!

So, here we go!

Meet Geoffrey Braithwaite, our lovely, cynical, black humoured and somewhat authoritative narrator in the anti-novel novel Flaubert's Parrot by Julian Barnes. He is in his 60s, British, a former physician and a widower, who, after discovering two parrots that may have been owned by the famed author Gustave Flaubert, decides to conduct a time consuming research of the author's life and his most famed work, Madame Bovary. Within the pages of this slender yet strangely satisfying novel is a bird's eye (pun intended) view of Flaubert's life, his process and struggle of writing Madame Bovary, and also the comparison of Braithwaite's life and his own eccentricities. As typical of Barnes' writing style, we the readers can not help but follow the narrator's footsteps simply because we want to know how he will get to the next step in his journey of "discovering" Flaubert.

After I completed this novel, I wanted to immediately check out a copy of Madame Bovary at the library and compare the "notes" of this anti-novel novel to the real book. I also wanted to read more about Flaubert since I felt he had become my own study. People called him a dog, a bear, a parrot, a camel, a loner, a hater of women, a lover of women, a man with many regrets, an enigma and an author who was very much ahead of his time, as most authors are.

If you have read Pale Fire by Vladimir Nabokov and was not put off by the anti-novel aspect of it, then you will certainly enjoy Flaubert's Parrot. A literary gem!

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