A Short Update

I admit that I’ve been all over the place: from filming vlogs published to YouTube and planning feature films, to posting seaside photos on Instagram. All my life I’ve acquired and pursued many interests that have landed anywhere on the scale between hobby and passion. But, nothing has ever quite stuck long-term.

Except for writing. More specifically, fiction stories.

I remember as a child spending all my summer time in nature inhabiting made-up characters and following their stories in my head, alone acting out the scenes during my outdoor escapades. When it was too cold to stand outside for more than five minutes, I hid myself away in the nook of the closet my mother cleared out for me and continued the adventures and dramas.

Perhaps we all did that when we were young?

If that is the case, that all children have the freedom of heart and mind for creative storytelling and writing, this knack has morphed into a need now as an adult.

Recently I decided to focus on one fiction novel. Though I’ve stashed away many ideas on my laptop (some partially written), I realized that I have gotten nowhere in my career as a serious writer by working on multiple projects at one time.

Last week I finished a handwritten outline for a fiction story idea (novel length) that has been following me since my husband and I arrived in Maine. It is a hybrid of romance and low fantasy with gothic elements. For now, that is all I will say about this writing project.

Regarding this blog, I plan to continue posting updates on my progress, publishing short writings, and sharing my thoughts on books that I finish.

Thank you for reading, and I hope to be able to “meet” all of you. Please feel free to comment and send an email. Also, visit my Instagram, caitlinrosestuart, if you are interested in books, nature, and cottage/dark academia/Victorian/Edwardian/romance aesthetics.

We are Emma Bovary

“At the bottom of her heart, however, she was waiting for something to happen. Like shipwrecked sailors, she turned despairing eyes upon the solitude of her life, seeking afar off some white sail in the mists of the horizon. She did not know what this chance would be, what wind would bring it her, towards what shore it would drive her, if it would be a shallop or a three-decker, laden with anguish or full of bliss to the portholes. But each morning, as she awoke, she hoped it would come that day; she listened to every sound, sprang up with a start, wondered that it did not come; then at sunset, always more saddened, she longed for the morrow.”

Madame Bovary: sexy, passionate tale of love affairs gone awry… or is it?

Gustave Flaubert’s perhaps most famous novel– and quite possibly the work he detested writing the most– is a paradox. Despite the French government convicting Flaubert of immorality regarding Bovary (Flaubert escaped such conviction in the mid 1850’s), this frustrating and brilliant novel is not centered on passion and sex. Scandalous? Yes, but in ways dependent on society in 1856, or society in 2018. In 1856, this novel was scandalous by the fact that a woman cheated on her husband multiple times sexually and emotionally. In 2018, this novel is scandalous by the way Flaubert calls out our human flaws.

Often before reading well-known literature, an opinion is formed before page one is turned. Before delving into this piece, mine was more of an expectation; that I would be transported to a world of rich parties, extravagant love affairs, and tantalizing climatic desire… think Anna Karenina. I couldn’t have been more wrong.

Yes, there are parties, there are love affairs, and there is desire, but it is not what one would expect, which is one reason I find this novel brilliant and unique.

One side of the mirror displays Flaubert’s poetic care for Emma Bovary, primarily in a physical sense. When the other side of the mirror is flipped, a more clinical, cynical Flaubert emerges: He jabs at high society, drab husband Charles Bovary, the shallow lovers, and most often, his central character, Emma.

Externally, he explores and comments on human faults found in all, but particularly of this time period, the bourgeoisie, and the drudgery of like-mindedness. The core of the novel reveals a universal flaw found only in humans: the desire for something else than what is found in this very moment, and a desire for something more than the basic needs (see Maslow’s hierarchy of needs). This is why I chose the quote at the top from Madame Bovary… it sums up the existential crisis of Emma, her primary desire, and motivation for all of her actions and thoughts.

This story is the least romantic, perhaps because Flaubert had an aversion for clichés, which Emma is the epitome of a cliché. You will not read Fifty Shades of Grey plots or clichéd writing in this novel. Clichés, however, do not tag solely along with romances, passion, desire, and thoughtless writing; they are simply the outcome of similar thoughts.

Unless you have attained enlightenment– the peace of mind that this very moment is perfect and the way it should be and nothing more– you, me, and Flaubert are Emma.

“Madame Bovary, c’est moi.” –Gustave Flaubert