Madame Bovary takes place in local northern France, near the town of Rouen in Normandy. The story starts and ends with Charles Bovary, a stolid, kindhearted man without much ability or ambition. As the novel opens, Charles is a shy, oddly dressed teenager arriving at a new school amidst the ridicule of his new classmates. Later, Charles struggles his way to a second-rate medical degree and becomes an officer de santÃ© in the Public Health Service. His mother chooses a wife for him, an unpleasant but supposedly rich widow named Heloise Dubuc, and Charles sets out to build a practice in the village.