Flaubert in Normandy

Destination: Normandy, France

Books: A Journey into Flaubert’s Normandy by Susannah Patton and Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert

A GUEST POST BY Dr. Jessie Voigts

Gustave Flaubert is considered one of the greatest Western writers (who among us hasn’t read Madame Bovary?), due to his love of – and search for – finding the right words to express himself.  I recently read an incredible book about Flaubert – and, importantly – about Normandy and his sense of place and home.

The west facade of the Cathedrale Notre-Dame, which dominates the center of Rouen. Much of the cathedral was built in the Norman gothic style in the thirteenth century.
The west facade of the Cathedrale Notre-Dame, which dominates the center of Rouen. Much of the cathedral was built in the Norman gothic style in the thirteenth century.

The book? A Journey into Flaubert’s Normandy, by Susannah Patton. [Part of the ArtPlace Series by Roaring Forties Press]The book is filled with incredible photos and paintings of Flaubert and his contemporaries, the buildings and landscape around Normandy, and his family home in Croisset.  You can definitely plan an extraordinary literary travel tour based on this treasure of a book – but you may also be an armchair traveler, delving into Flaubert and France at will.

We were lucky enough to sit down and chat with Susannah about Flaubert, Normandy, literary research, and travel. Here’s what she had to say…

WE:  Please tell us about your book, A Journey into Flaubert’s Normandy…

SP: The book is a literary travel guide that explores the relationship between a writer and his native region. Specifically, it’s an examination of the love-hate relationship Flaubert had with his home turf. Flaubert spent most of his life in Rouen and its environs, but also considered his fellow Normans to be “bourgeois” and close-minded. My hope is that the book will serve both as a guide for those who want to explore Rouen and surrounding countryside and seascapes, and also as a window into a time, a place and a writer’s often conflicted life.

See the rest of the interview at Wandering Educators.

All photos courtesy and copyright of Peter Feichtmeir, captions from book Flaubert ‘s Normandy.



Local farmers sell their wares at Lyons-la-Foret's marketplace, which Claude Chabral restored before filming Madame Bovary there in the early 1990's.

Thanks to Jessie, and I hope that you will go over to Wandering Educators and read the rest of the review. Since I recently read both Flaubert’s Normany and Madame Bovary, I just have to add that one of my favorite parts of the former was the description of the battle between two towns to be the real town of Emma Bovary. Rhys, a straight and narrow town both geographically and morally, provides a tour of Emma’s places. Lyons de Foret, more picturesque, has served as the movie set for film versions. Although Flaubert piles on the details in his writing to make the scenes seem real, it is probable that he blended characteristics of people and places he knew when he was writing his fiction.

Have you been to the Normandy of Flaubert?  Did you find scenes that reminded you of his works?

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About Vera Marie Badertscher

A freelance writer who loves to travel. When she is not traveling she is reading about travel. When she is not reading or traveling, she is sharing with the readers of A Traveler's Library, or recreating her family's past at Ancestors In Aprons . She has written for Reel Life With Jane, Life is a Trip and other websites. Also co-author of a biography, Quincy Tahoma, The Life and Legacy of a Navajo Artist. Contact Vera Marie by e-mail.

11 thoughts on “Flaubert in Normandy

  1. Thanks for the head’s up about this book.
    .-= Alisa Bowman´s last blog ..Help a Needy Writer =-.

    1. I’m glad that you have come to expect Friday in France. It is fun for me to explore one country this way. I have enough material on hand to get through at least January–if my attention does not wander to some other country by then. But one of the benefits is to get your wonderful little first-hand comments on France!!

    1. So maybe you can just tell me about it, since I have suddenly been inundated with new books that need to be read RIGHT NOW! And you remind me that I have sorely neglected my reading list page. Maybe I should just abandon it?

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