Wednesday, August 24, 2011

"Madame Bovary's Daughter"

Linda Urbach is a published author and screenwriter. Her third novel, Madame Bovary’s Daughter, addresses the question: Whatever happened to the only daughter of the scandalous Madame Bovary, literature’s greatest adulteress and worst mother?

Urbach applied the Page 69 Test to Madame Bovary's Daughter and reported the following:
Just to set the scene, Jean-François Millet, the famous painter has been using our heroine Berthe Bovary as a model. He then decides to paint her grandmother and her grandmother’s best friend. Both women assume they will be painted in their best finery. Little do they know that Millet specialized in “the common folk” and that they are to be the subjects of his famous painting entitled “Washerwomen”.
“I cannot speak for Madame Leaumont, but I’m sure she will consent. And I myself would be honored.” Berthe fumed. She had never seen her grandmother so excited. “What should we wear?” she asked, smoothing stray hairs back into her tight bun.

“Just wear your plainest, most comfortable clothes,” he answered. “You will speak to Madame Leaumont for me?” He picked up his painting materials.

“Of course.”

“Shall we say the day after tomorrow?” He tipped the brim of his straw hat.

“As you wish, Monsieur,” she said making a small curtsy. Berthe had to turn away. She found it painful to witness her grandmother’s newly discovered coquettish ways.

Two days later her grandmother and Madame Leaumont stood in the farmyard awaiting the arrival of Monsieur Millet. They were dressed in their very finest clothing.

Madame Leaumont wore a blue satin dress with a very tight bodice and sleeves and a matching bonnet trimmed in black velvet with a jaunty black plume affixed to the side.

Berthe’s Grandmother was wearing what looked to be a crimson ball gown. It had a huge hoop skirt that was decorated with jet beads and scallops of black lace. The bodice was so tight she seemed to have difficulty taking a deep breath. Instead of a hat she wore a feather headdress with a curled upsweep. She donned black lace gloves and kept her skirts slightly lifted to avoid the manure and soiled hay that covered the ground.

“Berthe, fetch a broom and clean this up,” she said, indicating the area where she stood. She opened her mouth to say something but thought better of it. What was she going to say? This was her grandmother’s house, her grandmother’s world for that matter. And now this vain silly woman had stolen her granddaughter’s only pleasure.

“Isn’t this exciting?” enthused Madame Leaumont. “We’re going to be in a famous painting.”
Learn more about the book and author at Linda Urbach's website and blog.

Writers Read: Linda Urbach.

Visit the complete list of books in the Page 69 Test Series.

--Marshal Zeringue