Thursday, January 30, 2014

Six memorable marriage proposals in literature

At The Barnes & Noble Book Blog Jill Boyd tagged six memorable marriage proposals in literature. One entry on the list:

Charles’ proposal to Emma (Madame Bovary, by Gustave Flaubert)

Actually, that should say “Charles’ proposal to Emma’s father.” Or, to be more accurate, his non-proposal to her father. Charles stammers as he attempts to ask Monsieur Rouault for his daughter’s hand in marriage. The old man, anticipating what Charles is going to say, tells him that while he is sure “the little one” will be agreeable, he will still go ask her opinion on the matter (gee, what a guy). Monsieur Rouault is not surprised by Charles’ matrimonial overtures, as he previously “perceived that Charles’s cheeks grew red if near his daughter.” (Please note that red cheeks don’t always spell an impending proposal, as one can learn the hard way when awaiting a “will you marry me?” from someone with rosacea.)

Yes, the proposal was a little lackluster, but what does it matter? I’ll admit that I never actually finished Madame Bovary, but I’m sure it all turns out well and Emma and Charles live happily ever after, right?
Read about the other entries on the list.

Madame Bovary is on Julia Sawalha's six best books list, Jennifer Gilmore's list of the ten worst mothers in books, Amy Sohn's list of six favorite books, Sue Townsend's 6 best books list, Helena Frith Powell's list of ten of the best sexy French books, the Christian Science Monitor's list of six novels about grand passions, John Mullan's lists of ten landmark coach rides in literature, ten of the best cathedrals in literature, ten of the best balls in literature, ten of the best bad lawyers in literature, ten of the best lotharios in literature, and ten of the best bad doctors in fiction, Valerie Martin's list of six novels about doomed marriages, and Louis Begley's list of favorite novels about cheating lovers. It tops Peter Carey's list of the top ten works of literature and was second on a top ten works of literature list selected by leading writers from Britain, America and Australia in 2007. It is one of John Bowe's six favorite books on love.

--Marshal Zeringue