Loose-knit tale of sex and a sleuth
Madame Bovary’s Haberdashery
By Maurilia Meehan Transit Lounge, 270pp, $29.95
SMALL Melbourne publisher Transit Lounge is no stranger to risk-taking fiction, during the past decade building an exciting list that pushes at boundaries and draws its share of accolades. Maurilia Meehan’s fifth novel, Madame Bovary’s Haberdashery, her first with Transit, is a comfortable fit and welcome addition. That it may not be everyone’s cup of Assam goes with the territory.
A main character who takes refuge in an oversized tea-cosy and another engaged in imaginary conversation with Agatha Christie’s Miss Marple may indicate this is not your conventional work of fiction. Fans of Meehan’s earlier work would be disappointed if it were. Meehan’s interest is as much the neuroses and emotional lives of women as it is the archetypal structures that offer meaning to their fractured lives.
To echo one of Meehan’s witticisms, Gustave Flaubert’s Madame Bovary looms large over the novel’s proceedings without actually threading her needle. Zac is a womanising Flaubert scholar working on a new, definitive translation of the novel,