The story starts as we see Charles Bovary entering a new school in the town of Rouen in
France.  People laugh at him because he isn't sure what to do and how to act.  He is the son of a
doting mother and a very strict father.  Charles isn't sure what to do with his life and
therefore does as his mother advices him; to go to medical school.  He fails at first because he
didn't work for it in class, but the second time he does and he passes the exam and becomes a
doctor in the town of Tostes.  He is well liked in town because people see him as a hard working
man.  Because he is still single and his mother thinks he shouldn't be, she arranges a marriage
only for the money with an ungly widow, Heloise Dubuc.

One day Charles is called to a farm because someone
has broken his leg.  On the farm he meets Emma Rouault, the daughter of the farm owner.  He likes
her very much and keeps coming back to her father to check up on his leg, even after his leg has
fully healed.  They get on very well and they dicide to get married, even with protest of his
former wife which dies soon after because of a stroke.  They arrange a huge wedding and loads of
people are invited to it.  They party on for days and days and there's food enough for a whole
army.  Because his practice isn't where the farmer lives, they return to Tostes.  And this is
where are the misery starts for Emma.  When Charles is out in the country for house visits, Emma
just sits at home doing nothing.  All she does is read, watch the rain and she used to play the
piano, but quit because she feels that nobody listened to her anyway.  She hoped to get the love
from her husband in the same way that the main characters in the novels she read get love, but
that doesn't happen.  She is bored to death.  She is starting to get irritated by Charles' way
of living and the way he behaves sometimes.

One day they go to a party of the maquis and there
she meets the life that she wants to live.  She doesn't want Charles to dance because she feels
that it would embarras her and instead dances the night away with a Viscount and meets all the
rich.  When they return back home, she becomes even more miserable because she misses all those
things now.  Charles notices this and talks with another doctor and together they conclude that
a change of scenery might be good for her and they decide to move to Yonville.  At the time that
they move, Emma discovers that she is pregnant.

In Yonville, life isn't that much different from
the life she'd lived before, but now she meets someone who is interested in the same things as
she is; Leon Dupuis, a clerk.  Emma is now close to giving birth to a baby and she is hoping that
it's going to be a boy so that he can be strong and free, but her hopes are lost when it turns
out that it is a boy; Berthe.  As time passes, Emma continues her life and finds out that she is
in love with Leon, but they don't start any relationship.  Eventually, Leon moves to Paris to
study there and Emma is again left in misery.  Rodolphe meets Emma and she really is
attracted to her, but in a sexual way; he thinks that Emma is beautiful.  He manages to talk Emma
into seducing her and it works.  Emma starts to get more and more interested in Rodolphe and they
start spending more and more time togeter, for example, they go to the agricultural show
together.  Emma starts meeting him in secret and he even comes to their house where they make
love.  Rodolphe decides that to keep the love going, he should leave for a few weeks and that's
what he does.  And it seems to work, because after six weeks, Emma can't wait to see him again.

One day when Emma decides to go back to Rodolphe, she passes passed by Bines, who knew that she
had nothing to look for over that side of town because Rodolphe's house was the last one there
he knew that she wasn't supposed to be there,