March 6th, 2014

"A Flower of Evil": Could Emma Bovary have been based on a woman from Barcelona in the 19th century?

Could the fictional character of Emma Bovary have been based on a real-life woman from Barcelona in the 19th century? Debut literary novel A Flower of Evil (Una flor del mal) by Barcelonian journalistMiquel Molina, published by Destino in early March 2014, craftilyunveils this highly realistic mystery through a sophisticated plot set in present-day Barcelona and in Flaubert and Courbet's Paris and Lyon at the end of the 1800's. The Girl With the Pearl Earingfor heart-broken fans of MadameBovaryand its timeless protagonist.

Eduardo Mendoza, one of the first followers of the novel has said: “A mysterious and elegant story I read with much pleasure”.

Una flor del mal_Miquel Molina cubierta Miquel Molina foto web

Gustave Flaubert left a question unsanswered, probably unintededly, when he wrote that his Emma Bovary looked like “the pale woman of Barcelona”. Whom was he referring to? A real woman? A popular saying? A model in a painting? Did a Catalan Emma Bovary really exist? How was she? Where was she buried? As fate would have it, a teacher from Barcelona is now willing to uncover the mystery.

A century and a half has gone by since Flaubert described his heroine in those words. The Professor of Literature Guillermo Jiménez starts seeking for the answer somewhere within the triangle formed by the cities of Philadelphia, Lyon and Barcelona. The appearance of a Nazi-sacked painting in a house in the Catalan capital will only increase his excitement to find out who she was. Gustave Courbet, Baudelaire, 19th century ladies addicted to opium, Herman Göering and an enigmatic woman of our days constitute this intriguing combination of fiction and real facts.

Editor Silvia Sesé at Destino shared these words with the author that lead her to acquire rights of the novel: “it has been a really pleasant surprise. Added to the many attractive features in the story, you managed to recreate and convey the fascination for the dark side of an entire generation, as well as the achievements and artistic possibilities that that exploration fostered. But above all you have managed to make that impulse lively and close to the reader, far from seeming museum flesh”.

Miquel Molina (Barcelona, 1963) lives immersed in the latest cutting-edge for almost thirty years, since he first started working as a journalist in an editorial office. He is now deputy director of La Vanguardia. As a reporter he has covered catastrophes such as the Katrina and George hurricanes. His first novel, A Flower of Evil, is the result of one of his hobbies: to scrutinize on the dark side of paintings, and to reconstruct the biographies of the models in them, who remain halfway between reality and the idealized character created by the painter.

More information: Patricia Sá