I completely changed my mind about this book. I thought the beginning was slow, and I was worried that Emma and Leon’s story was going to be the main one. But then, as soon as Emma and Rodolphe got really involved, I got much more involved and attached to Emma. Throughout I empathized with the way she oscillates so suddenly from hope and euphoria to disappointment and defeat. I saw myself a bit in that — easily swept up into a hope and piling expectations on it.
It was terribly sad to see how with both Rodolphe and Leon her affairs became more of a habit than a passionate relationship, and of course awful to see her not only abandoned by the former, but also not taken seriously. For Roldolphe was even thinking of how to get rid of her the first time he saw her: “A compliment or two and she’d adore me, I’m positive. She’d be sweet! But – how would I get rid of her later?”
I think most can relate to her frustrations with “the mediocrity of daily life,” and thinking sometimes that we’ve been “caught in it all by some accident.” It was interesting to see how Emma tried to compensate for her daily dissatisfaction with her out-of-control consumerism, but it was stunning that Emma actually committed suicide not directly because of disappointed love, but because of her financial state.
All in all, at least the second half of the novel was — well, it’s hard to say “enjoyable” because it was painfully sad, but I did find it very moving.