100 in ’11: Flaubert, Gerhart and Antonioni/Flynn

Madame Bovary – Gustave Flaubert

Summary: I liked the blurb so much, I’m just going to pinch it – Emma is the “original desperate housewife”, struggling to find meaning in life.

Emma Bovary is married to an incompetent doctor who dotes on her. She likes fine things, but most importantly, she has seemingly unrealistic romantic ideals – although men flock to her, she’s constantly searching for love and is always disappointed, leaving a string of failed affairs in her wake. She apparently suffers from depression or a similar illness coupled with a delicate constitution, and I came to find her constant misery grating (a sign of true-to-life writing, I suppose). Eventually she masterminds her own destruction, spiralling deeper into financial and emotional debt with horrendous consequences for her husband and child. Interestingly, all of the characters are flawed to some degree, none of them particularly likeable, and this was apparently a groundbreaker at the time; realistic fiction which didn’t moralise to readers. A fantastic if grim read.

The Perfect Wife – Ann Gerhart

Summary: A skeletal biography of Laura Bush.

After American Wife,I was keen to find out more about the real Laura Bush, and this was one of the books Curtis Sittenfeld drew heavily on, she said. Thing is, the real LB was also intensely private, and Gerhart had very little to work with. The First Lady refused to be interviewed by her, so ultimately, it’s a bit like the literary equivalent of a brand new colouring book, outlines waiting to be filled in.

Economics for Dummies – Peter Antonioni, Sean Masaki Flynn

Summary: It’s economics for dummies, baby.

What can I say? This was the perfect book for me. It covers macro and micro economics, super exciting things like trade, GDP, and plenty of graphs (which I’ll happily admit mostly went over my head). Especially interesting, although not particularly relevant to me or what I need to know, were the models for optimum production for businesses and economies of scale – and how governments use policy to manipulate the economy. I’ve always wondered WHY, exactly, we have inflation. Could we not just hold prices forever? But of course, we all want to earn more, we all want to get ahead, so the race to outpace the CPI continues.

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