13, rue Thérèse

Elena Mauli Shapiro

Headline

Remember that dusty old “classic”, Madame Bovary? Emma Bovary was the 19th-century original desperate housewife that Gustave Flaubert, in best puritanic patriarchal tradition, consigned to a nasty end by way of retribution for her “sins”.

Elena Shapiro will have none of that for her sexy and slightly bored Madame Brunet. Shapiro employs a box of letters, photographs and old lace church gloves to help her protagonist, Trevor Stratton, an American academic, re-discover the long-dead Louise Brunet. She lends him, too, a few of the time-travelling skills that Audrey Niffenegger conferred upon the husband of her Time Traveler’s Wife. She even allows Flaubert a little page space; perhaps to observe how a female character should be treated?