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Though the basic plot is rather simple, even archetypal, the novel's true art lies in its details and hidden patterns. Flaubert was a notorious perfectionist and claimed always to be searching for le mot juste. The novel was attacked for obscenity by public prosecutors. The resulting trial, made the story notorious.
After acquittal, became a bestseller when it was published as a single volume in April 1857. Flaubert's masterpiece is now considered a seminal work of Realism and one of the most influential novels ever written. James Wood writes in How Fiction Works, "Flaubert established for good or ill, what most readers think of as modern realist narration, and his influence is almost too familiar to be visible".