Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert
I read this novel perhaps half a year to a year ago. Perhaps everything pales in comparison Thomas Mann's Magic Mountain, but I cannot say that this book has left a lasting impression on me. Of course, reading about the lives of the French in their pastoral villages was amusing, but, ultimately, it was not enough to elevate the novel to the same level as some of the other works on the list I am compiling.
A book about a the love affairs of Madame Bovary, I'd recommend the book for anyone who is in the mood for scandal and intrigue. While it may be unfair to categorize the book this way and it undoubtedly has some deeper themes, such as the dangers of Madame Bovary's unrelenting quest for affirmation and hollowness of the bourgeois lifestyle, there are more powerful works on these subjects. With all that being said, I understand the novel reads very poetically in its native French and perhaps that's the raison d'etre for its continued populartiy.