07 August 2007

Book Review: Madame Bovary, C'est Moi by André Bernard

Madame Bovary C’est Moi Ever wondered where authors get the characters from? Or how those characters have evolved from their original forms? Then this is the book for you. It’s packed full of anecdotes telling how more than seventy well-known fictional figures came into being. It covers everything from classic creations of authors like Dickens and Hardy to a good handful of modern detectives, children’s favourites and even a few of the non-human variety. Even if you haven’t read all the books in question, you will almost certainly have heard of them.

Books like this are why I love aimlessly browsing through the library - you never know what little gems you might find. This was entertaining not only for the stories but for the character-related quotes from various writers. And as a wannabe author myself, it was interesting to see how others have gone about creating their fictional people (and a little disconcerting to realise that I don’t have any that are anecdote-worthy, as usually I just can’t remember their origin). My favourites tended to be those about characters that had begun their existence in very different form. Connie Gustfman, for instance ... it really hasn’t got the same ring as Holly Golightly, does it? Yet that was how Holly began.

It was surprising to see how many characters were unflatteringly based on real people (or perhaps not, since I’m vaguely in the process of doing the same thing myself); sometimes I had to wonder how the author got away without a lawsuit. Be warned, though: some of the character summaries do contain spoilers. But at least Bernard restrained himself from revealing the identity of the villain in The Thin Man.

Rating: B

1 comment:

  1. Definitely read Trollope! I finally read him for the first time last month (as part of my Summer Reading Challenge), and now I'm a convert. His plotting is much faster-paced than Thackeray or Dickens.


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Header image shows detail of A Young Girl Reading by Jean-Honoré Fragonard, c. 1776