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The French Lieutenant's Woman (Reading Guide…
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The French Lieutenant's Woman (Reading Guide Edition) (original 1969; edition 1969)

by John Fowles

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4,532761,062 (3.86)1 / 310
Member:scarper
Title:The French Lieutenant's Woman (Reading Guide Edition)
Authors:John Fowles
Info:Vintage (2005), Edition: Limited Ed, Paperback, 464 pages
Collections:Your library, Fiction, Read in 2008
Rating:***
Tags:England

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The French Lieutenant's Woman by John Fowles (1969)

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English (71)  Spanish (2)  Hebrew (1)  Italian (1)  Danish (1)  All languages (76)
Showing 1-5 of 71 (next | show all)
Of course this is a famous movie, but it is a classic book written in superlative English. Highly recommended. ( )
  Benedict8 | Jul 16, 2014 |
Not a historical novel in the usual "lusty, busty, gusty" sense, but an attempt to recreate the atmosphere of the serious psychological novels of the later Victorian era.
  antiquary | Jul 9, 2014 |
First time (at least, self-aware first time) with an explicitly unreliable and downright ornery narrator. Talk about a mindf*ck -- I remember getting to the point where the chronology got messed up, where the relationship with Sarah turns out not to be what it was all Victorian-ishly cracked up to be, and where Mr. Fowles himself appears, leaning on a tree outside someone's brownstone. I really think that must have been the moment when I realized just how paradoxically necessary and yet unnecessary "Rules" were in writing. It was such a trip; and since that literally was one of the most exciting moments in my life, I think I must be a huge nerd. ( )
  50MinuteMermaid | Nov 14, 2013 |
A beautiful book, a story within a story, incredible paralells between the Victorian and contemporary timelines, an aura of gothic mystery, sublime landscapes of lovely southwest England... Kind of a spoiler that I saw the film first, hence kept picturing Meryl Streep and Jeremy Irons... ( )
  Miguelnunonave | Sep 9, 2013 |
I cannot decide whether I loved this book or was annoyed by it. Fowles wrote this Victorian era novel in the 1960s, but it never struck me as historical fiction. I guess it felt more like a writing exercise with really well thought out characters. Fowles inserts himself into the book, exploring his control or lack thereof over the characters, and comments on Victorian era psyche from the perspective of the 1960s. He also supplies 3 different endings to the book, never really saying which he feels is the right one.

I found this all interesting and annoying at the same time. I think it was even more annoying because the characters are so interesting and the plot so familiar (at the beginning at least) that I kind of wanted it to just be a straight ahead Victorian novel. I think it's kind of brilliant that Fowles was able to mesh these two things but it was also kind of jarring to read.

This is one of those books that I'll have to think about for awhile. ( )
1 vote japaul22 | Jul 14, 2013 |
Showing 1-5 of 71 (next | show all)
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Epigraph
Every emancipation is a restoration of the human world and of human relationships to man himself.
Marx, Zur Judenfrage(1844)
Dedication
First words
An easterly is the most disagreeable wind in Lyme Bay - Lyme Bay being that largest bite from the underside of England's outstretched south-western leg - and a person of curiosity could at once have deduced several strong possibilities about the pair who began to walk down the quay at Lyme Regis, the small but ancient eponym of the inbite, one incisively sharp and blustery morning in the late March of 1867.
Quotations
"Fiction usually pretends to conform to the reality: the writer puts the conflicting wants and then describes the fight - but in fact fixes the fight, letting the want he himself favors win. And we judge writers of fiction both by the skill they show in fixing the fights (in other words in persuading us that they were not fixed) and by the kind of fighter they fix in favor of: the good one, the tragic one, the evil one, the funny one and so on."

"That is the great distinction between the sexes. Men see objects, women see the relationship between objects. Whether the objects need each other, love each other, match each other. It is an extra dimension of feeling we men are without and one that makes war abhorrent to all real women—and absurd . . . War is a psychosis caused by an inability to see relationships."
When Charles left Sarah on her cliff ledge, I ordered him to walk straight back to Lyme Regis. But he did not; he gratuitously turned and went down to the Dairy.
- p. 81
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0316291161, Paperback)

As part of Back Bay's ongoing effort to make the works of John Fowles available in uniform trade paperback editions, two major works in the Fowles canon are reissued to coincide with the publication of Wormholes, the author's long-awaited new collection of essays and occasional writings.

Perhaps the most beloved of Fowles's internationally bestselling works, The French Lieutenant's Woman is a feat of seductive storytelling that effectively invents anew the Victorian novel. "Filled with enchanting mysteries and magically erotic possibilities" (New York Times), the novel inspired the hugely successful 1981 film starring Meryl Streep and Jeremy Irons and is today universally regarded as a modern classic.

In A Maggot, originally published in 1985, Fowles reaches back to the eighteenth century to offer readers a glimpse into the future. Time magazine called the result "hypnotic....A remarkable achievement. Part detective story, part crackling courtroom drama....An immensely rich and readable novel".

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:51:42 -0400)

(see all 4 descriptions)

While in Lyme Regis to visit his fiancee, Ernestina Freeman, Charles Smithson, a 32-year-old paleontologist, becomes fascinated by the mysterious Sarah Woodruff. A fallen woman said to have been jilted by a French officer, Sarah is a pariah to the well-bred society that Charles and Ernestina are a part of. While searching for fossils in a wooded coastal area, Charles encounters Sarah alone, and his curiosity and pity for her soon evolve into other emotions. It is not clear who seduces whom, but when another opportunity presents itself, Charles embraces Sarah passionately. Shortly thereafter, Sarah disappears, having been dismissed from domestic employment by the tyrannical do-gooder Mrs. Poultenay. Charles finds her in a room in Exeter, where he declares and demonstrates his love. Inspired by his image of Sarah as a valiant rebel against Victorian conventions, Charles rejects the constricting, respectable life Ernestina represents for him. He breaks off their engagement and is harassed with legal action for breach of contract. Meanwhile, Sarah vanishes again, and Charles spends 20 months scouring the world for her, finally tracing her to the lodgings of Dante Gabriel Rossetti in London.… (more)

(summary from another edition)

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