Madame Bovary (1856) is the first published novel of Gustave Flaubert and is regarded as his masterpiece. Madame Bovary is the story of Emma Bovary, a woman unhappily married to a doctor, who seeks escape from the deadening boredom of the emptiness of the life in the province through forbidden relationships with other men.
Emma Bovary's "rebellious" attitude against the accepted ideas of the day reflects Flaubert's views of the conformist and tradition bearing middle-class way of life.
When it was first serialized in La Revue de Paris between 1 October 1856 and 15 December 1856, the novel was attacked for obscenity by public prosecutors. The resulting trial, held in January 1857, made the story notorious. After Flaubert's acquittal Madame Bovary became a bestseller when it was republished in 1857.
Flaubert's masterpiece is now considered a seminal work of Realism and one of the most influential novels ever written. Its influence is somewhat too pervasive to be even visible.