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The French Lieutenant's Woman (Vintage Classics) Paperback – 4 Nov 2004

4.1 out of 5 stars 56 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 480 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage Classics; New Ed edition (4 Nov. 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0099478331
  • ISBN-13: 978-0099478331
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 2.9 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (56 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 33,397 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

"A brilliant success... It is a passionate piece of writing as well as an immaculate example of storytelling" (Financial Times)

"Compulsively readable" (Irish Times)

"A splendid, lucid, profoundly satisfying work of art, a book which I want almost immediately to read again" (New Statesman)

"Brilliant...an artist of great imaginative power" (Sunday Times)

"Marvellous 1969 novel... You can read this book again and again, always finding something new and always falling in love with the hapless Charles." (Val Hennessy Daily Mail)

Review

'A brilliant success ... It is a passionate piece of writing as well as an immaculate example of storytelling.' (The Financial Times)

'Compulsively readable.' (The Irish Times)

'A splendid, lucid, profoundly satisfying work of art, a book which I want almost immediately to read again.' (New Statesman) -- Dieser Text bezieht sich auf eine andere Ausgabe: Audio CD.

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
The French Lieutenant's Woman at times reads exactly like a Victorian novel; Fowles is able to mimic the style impeccably and I often forgot I was reading a modern piece of writing. However, the text is peppered with dry observations on the characters, the Victorians or the process of writing a story that come from such a modern perspective that they jolted me out of this false sense of period and made me aware of what the author was doing. Fowles has a very knowing, self-conscious narratorial voice in these passages which can put some readers off, particularly as they often interrupt the flow of the story. He does like to draw attention to just how clever he is being, but as I whole-heartedly agree with him it's very difficult to find this an irritating trait. In fact, I thought that Fowles observations and reflections on being Victorian, something obviously impossible in contemporary novels, added an extra layer of richness to the text. He uses the distance and perspective provided by time to make explicit the cultural points of view latent in these Victorian novels and provide commentary on them. I think it's great that he doesn't just write a historical novel butinstead uses a historical style and setting to produce something so lucid and clever.

The story centres around Charles Smithson, who is staying in Lyme Regis visiting his fiancee, Ernestina, prior to their wedding. There he meets Sarah Woodruff, also known as Tragedy or, less kindly, as the French Lieutenant's Woman. As he becomes increasingly fascinated by Sarah he is forced to reexamine his own values as his forthcoming marriage is threatened.
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Format: Paperback
It is all too easy to be transported into the world so vividly created for us by John Fowles, as he details the love affair between Charles Smithson and Sarah Woodruff, whilst simultaneously exposing the hypocracies of Victorian England.
Haunted night and day by the face of 'The French Lieutenant's Woman' (Sarah Woodruff) Charles Smithson struggles to forget her and concede to a life with the entirely more conventional Ernestina Freeman. Theirs is the expected and typical Victorian pairing, but as the action progresses, Charles finds his initial curiosity towards the enigmatic Sarah developing into attraction and eventual desire. In his novel, Fowles powerfully depicts Charles's inner conflict between head and heart, painfully illustrating the consequences of allowing the heart to overrule in such a repressed, hypocritical society.
'The French Lieutenant's Woman', with its convoluted yet innovative narrative structure, use of multiple endings, enigmatic characters and reflexivity does not make for simple reading, but perservere and you will be rewarded. Fowles's gripping tale of illicit love, simmering passions, repressed sexuality and (ultimately) painful rejection is a haunting masterpiece. The characters and their situations will live on in your memory long after you have closed the book. A beautifully evocative, engaging and intruiging novel - this is a modern work of art and must not be missed.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
"I do not know. This story I am telling is all imagination... I have disgracefully broken the illusion?"

"No."

Many would argue the real main character of this novel; the oblivious young gentleman searcing desperatly for his own identity, or the young woman- the French Lieutenant's Whore, in fact - that he falls in love with.

Both are incorrect. The most prominent character in this tale is Fowles himself. Writing from 1969, Fowles explores the Victorian era through every character he brings to our attention, with emotion that only comes from passionately studying the period. What manner of emotion? It ranges at times from commiseration to downright disdain.

Fowles understand the conventions of typical Victorian romantic novels and brutally exploits them. The is no fallen woman who find redemption in the love of a man. No lovers attempting to overcome their separate classes. This novel understands Dickens and resents every image he made of Victorian England. The novel doesn't hold back, often finding itself delighting in some of lives harsher truths.

The person you obsess and find yourself heart-sick over is often far from the idolised image you paint of them.

Some men are haunted by the fact that there are women in the world far more attractive that the one they're with.

And, despite every effort to pretend otherwise, women are capable of cruelty and manipulation that rivals, and even sometimes surpasses, men.

In "The French Lieutenant's Woman", Fowles creates a world impossible not to find yourself lost in lost, without using any of fiction's cheap tricks.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This is a brilliant, challenging, revolutionary book. It considers huge issues: free will; evolution; history - its warnings and encouragements; the strengthening and stifling mores of cultural convention and religion.
Fowles uses the process of novel-writing as a metaphor. How far is an author licenced to direct his/her created world and the imaginary characters it contains? What if his/her interference stretches them beyond credibility or nature, thus destroying their integrity? So then, he asks by implication, how far is God, or society or received morality licenced to interfere and direct the world and its inhabitants? What if that interference stretches our natures beyond endurance or crushes our integrity? What happens when people rebel and dare to do things differently? Are they, in fact, duty-bound to do so? This book asks how much freedom is permissible and how much is an absolute requirement. Can we, ought we to, MUST we rebel and evolve?
This novel is self-consciously written in the late 1960s but set in 1867. From the lofty perspective of hindsight, Fowles examines the effects of Victorian culture, morality and philosophical thinking on people of various strata of society. Charles Darwin, it is worth noting, had just published his ‘Origin of Species’ and it is no accident that one of the main characters (also named Charles) is interested in palaeontology - the study of fossils which challenged the then received Christian wisdom of a world dating back no further than 4004 BC.
The Charles in the book is engaged to Ernestina because she is pretty and rich and because he is at an age when he really ought to marry; his family expects it and an heir must be sired. He finds himself in the claustrophobic town of Lyme playing escort to his fiancée while she visits her aunt.
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