Having finished “The Legend of Saint Julien," Flaubert, as he said, was too excited to take on much work. In March 1876, he began his second novel “A Simple Heart”, completed in September of the same year.
He had already somewhat developed the idea of the second story inspired by the memories of his youth. In Trouville, in the friendly to Flaubert family of Barbe, Gustave saw a stuffed parrot, a favorite of the servant of Leonie and heard the story of the maid told by herself. Leonie merged with Julie - the maid of Flaubert's cousin Mme Alla, who can be found in Mrs. Aubin. A number of episodes of the story are the memories of Flaubert's childhood: a bull on the farm of Zefos, the arrival of a farmer from Tuk, bathing and gathering shells in Trouville. The description of walks riding on a donkey to the rocks of Epequil is found in Flaubert's notebook, dating back to the early sixties; from there it is transferred without changes to the "A Simple Heart."
"A SimpleHheart," is an ordinary story about one inconspicuous life, the life of a poor peasant girl, religious, faithful without enthusiasm and gentle like a fresh roll. She loves a man first, then the children of her mistress, her nephew, the old man she looks after, and finally the parrot; when the parrot dies, she orders his scarecrow and when dying takes the parrot for the holy spirit. There is no irony here, at least arguably; on the contrary, the perspective here is serious and sad.
After the "Madame Bovary" and "Salammbo," friends and readers did not expect Flaubert to have such "sensitivity" and "tenderness." The idea of the "A Simple Heart" was significantly different from his previous works. The pain of recent losses, the rushing memories can not explain the state of mind of the writer who conceived his work. Almost simultaneously with the "A Simple Heart" Flaubert wrote "Herodias" and "Buvara and Pecuchet", in which the notorious "cruelty" and irony triumph.
"A Simple Heart" is undoubtedly one of Flaubert's best works. Never before has he achieved such simplicity of expressive means, he has never put such profound lyricism and such warmth of feelings into such a meager, so ungrateful material. Never before has he touched the reader with such moral purity and such high spiritual wretchedness.