Classic English Literature. · Companion Books for TV / Film

The French Lieutenant’s Woman

by John Fowles.

This is a postmodern book about a mysterious woman – ‘The French Lieutenant’s Whore’ who is disgraced due to her doomed relationship with a French lieutenant. She falls for paleontologist, Charles Smithson and a clandestine relationship ensues. What makes this book remarkable is the three alternate endings, the author’s inclusion of himself as a cameo character and the constant satire of Victorian society. Hypocrisy was evident throughout the book from various characters which was interesting to see, and the role of an unmarried woman marred by scandal was interesting to see in a society where things were always so black and white.

However, this book is not perfect. The book is verbose at times, as if Fowles is truly trying to mimic the wordy offerings of Victorian literature. It’s not groundbreaking. It casts everyone else out of the story as little more than padding. I didn’t really become particularly interested in Sarah and Charles’s relationship. The relationship he had with his empty-headed fiancĂ©e Ernestina didn’t interest me either.

So, ultimately, it’s a good book but not fantastic. I’ve not yet read anything else by Fowles and right now it’s not a massive priority. It was good that the book had alternate endings, and the societal satire was amusing but aside from that it served as little better than a book to read on a boring Sunday afternoon.

MY RATING: **.5 / *****



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