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Daniel Martin

3.79  ·  Rating Details ·  1,886 Ratings  ·  77 Reviews
Set internationally and spanning three decades, Daniel Martin is, among other things, an exploration of what it is to be English. Daniel is a screenwriter working in Hollywood, who finds himself dissatisfied with his career and with the person he has become. In a richly evoked narrative, Daniel travels home to reconcile with a dying friend, and also to visit his own forgot ...more
Paperback, 704 pages
Published November 4th 2004 by Vintage Classics (first published 1977)
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The Magus by John FowlesThe French Lieutenant's Woman by John FowlesThe Collector by John FowlesThe Ebony Tower by John FowlesA Maggot by John Fowles
Top Books of John Fowles
6th out of 12 books — 28 voters
Pride and Prejudice by Jane AustenJane Eyre by Charlotte BrontëThe Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. TolkienWuthering Heights by Emily Brontë1984 by George Orwell
Best British and Irish Literature
431st out of 926 books — 981 voters

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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
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Jun 01, 2009 Max rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: things-i-love, 2009
John Fowles is one of my favorite contemporary writers, and now--having read Daniel Martin--I almost regret not saving it for my last read of his. It was written nearer the middle of his career, but still manages to provide the most wonderful feeling of autobiographical summation, like an epic epilogue reflection on life lived. Being that the life in question is that of a narcissistic playwright turned jaded Hollywood screenwriter too much obsessed with the nostalgia of his youth and the yearnin ...more
Dec 12, 2007 Virginia rated it it was ok
i don't know why i keep reading books about self-obsessed middle-aged men. it's not that i have nothing in common with these characters (lord knows i have my share of self-obsession, why else would i be typing out a review that i'm pretty sure no one will ever read). it's that they seem to take their self-obsession as a badge of honor--it makes them interesting or worth-while. i'm actually conflating daniel martin and john fowles, but the novel invites that sort of confusion, so i don't care. al ...more
Feb 03, 2013 Craig rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I had a graduate professor who challenged our group to find a contemporary literary novel with a truly believable 'happy ending.' Fowles' Daniel Martin does just that, but it takes over 600 pages to develop it -- and 'happy ending' doesn't mean a necessarily 'happy journey.' Fowles set out to show that sometimes in life, things do turn out well -- but it takes a lot of hard work, will, and luck. His experiements with changing tenses and point of view make for an interesting read. Adult reading, ...more
Feb 19, 2008 William rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: any john fowles fans
This 700-page tome is a most unlikely suspense novel. Its two main characters, both overcerebral Oxbridge graduates in their mid-40s, are thoroughly disillusioned with society on both sides of the Atlantic. Jane, whose husband Anthony has just died of cancer, has previously been a Catholic but has lapsed and is now a Marxist, though more theoretical than active. Dan, who early on lapsed from writing plays to Hollywood scriptwriting, engages in seemingly continuous deep, complex introspection, ...more
Jun 09, 2014 Andrew added it
Shelves: british-fiction
It took me a while to get into this one-- granted, my standards were high, with Fowles being an all-time favorite, and the difficulty of a book with unannounced polyphonic voices. But once I actually got the hang of Daniel Martin, I found it impossible to put down. Great stuff in here, aesthetics and globetrotting and ideology mixed with stories about really shit teenage romances and your lousy job, with just the right balance of self-deprecation and dignity, snark and heart. Still probably not ...more
Jan 05, 2009 Stven rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: serious readers
This is in my opinion the best of John Fowles' novels (and Fowles must have thought so, too, since after Daniel Martin he never bothered to summon the strength to produce another major novel). It is truly a great novel. Fowles' prose, in the first place, is beautiful when he wants it to be, and he is determined to draw the reader in from the opening scene... not only with sheer shimmering beauty but with a calculated grandeur, setting the pace for this vast book which tells the whole private epi ...more
Feb 09, 2009 Chrissie rated it really liked it
First: it really upsets me that when you search "Fowles" on goodreads, you get every Artemis Fowl book before a single one by John Fowles. On John's behalf, I take this personally.

Second: I love John Fowles. He has an ability to make me feel that almost no other writer does. Like The Magus, some parts of this book were hard to read because the situations in it are so painful and real. People and their relationships are often crazy, confused, and troubled, and Fowles captures that better than any
dead letter office
Mar 18, 2009 dead letter office rated it it was ok
After reading A Maggot and The Collector, I was operating under the conviction that John Fowles was incapable of a book unanchored in extreme oddity. Daniel Martin is fine, but its absolute disinterest in defying expectations was totally unexpected. This book is boring in a way I would have thought John Fowles couldn't pull off. He's woven some good short stuff into the very long story of a character who seems to exist only to expound a fundamentally boring personal philosphy. The bottom line is ...more
Lara Messersmith-Glavin
John Fowles has previously rocked my brain into twisted submission with such delights as The Magus and Mantissa. The things that man can do with a Greek island and sunlight are not to be trifled with.

A dozen or so pages in, and I am not yet hooked. Curious, perhaps, piqued by an accent I cannot place and haunted with two images: that of a thick slice of ham resting on buttered bread, and the other a screaming rabbit with its legs shorn off by a thresher.

617 pages to go.

Sherelyn Ernst
Nov 17, 2011 Sherelyn Ernst rated it did not like it
I FINALLY finished this, but I'm not proud of it. I finished it because I didn't want to hurt the feelings of someone who thinks this is right up with Shakespeare and Tolstoi and whose opinion I respect. However, for me, the bottom line was chagrin that I plowed through 600 pages of middle-aged male British navel gazing. I understand that I am probably wrong in my assessment; some very famous literary people think very highly of it. I thought of giving it more stars to show that it is very ...more
Under Milkwood
Jun 12, 2013 Under Milkwood rated it really liked it
Having revisited this difficult book after thirty years I ask myself the question _ when did John Fowles become Marcel Proust. Some of his paragraphs went on till the next day and some of his cerebral self-indulgent rants drove me to distraction. But ultimately, his examination of the human psyche through male/ female relationships was nothing short of brilliant. Despite the difficulties, I still love this book.
Charles Bechtel
Sep 07, 2012 Charles Bechtel rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Can't say what it is about this book, but I have read it more times than any other book except the Hobbit (13). I pick it up every 2-3 years and devour it. (I'm due!) The excellent transfer by the author of me to his locations, the well-formed characterizations, the variety of scene and time, all of these thrill me as I read. Just love it. My favorite Fowles, who is a favorite author, and probably my most favorite book. And I don't know why, precisely.
Apr 13, 2010 Erich added it
I read this 3 decades ago during a week-long storm lashed to a cliff top off northern Vancouver Island....the dialogue is so rich, the characters so real. There are so many great passages. Conveying the sense of place is one of Fowles' gifts. He was a naturalist in the true sense, a lover of nature. Skip the first chapter, however.
Jun 29, 2015 Kathy rated it liked it
Shelves: read-in-2015

*Spoiler alert*

There are some aspects of this book that are really good and very well written. But there is something fundamentally wrong (for me) when the slippery, dishonest (sometimes) narrator and chief protagonist never gets his comeuppance. Quite the contrary: all the women he has manipulated and cheated seem to forgive him! Mr Fowles seems to want to have his cake and eat it in a way that I find objectionable.

Furthermore, the plot seems to peter out after a protracted period of meandering
Montgomery Webster
Apr 07, 2015 Montgomery Webster rated it did not like it
Shelves: recommended
Story: 2 / 10
Characters: 5
Setting: 7
Prose: 7

"Tell me a story." That's my reading philosophy. I pick up a book, either because it was recommended or won an annual genre award, but I don't read the description. I simply trust the author to reveal the story to me. I've gone years without reading the back of the book. After this book, that era is over.

Daniel Martin was the second book I've read by John Fowles. A work colleague recommended The Magus and I absolutely loved it. He then went on to reco
Sep 21, 2015 Dana rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Prin "Daniel Martin", John Fowles dă viaţă unei poveşti de iubire care transcende timpul, dar face și o analiză minuţioasă a individului englez postbelic preocupat de camuflarea adevăratelor intenţii pentru a acoperi înstrăinarea de sine într-o lume aflată în derivă. Mai mult, prin satirizarea elitei academice a Oxfordului, autorul face şi o paralelă între spaţiul american, preocupat de lucrurile materiale şi atingerea celebrităţii, şi spaţiul englezesc, preocupat de păstrarea tradiţiilor şi ...more
Apr 28, 2011 Jim rated it really liked it
An amazing, intense, dense, almost unreadable book. It took me three months to read it. It was by turns - self-indulgent, masterful and romantic. It has the otherplacedness that Fowles can deliver – better done in the Magus. The novel requires intense attention as Daniel sifts through his romantic life - Nell, Jamie and finally Jane - all beautiful, desirable and complicated. I disliked and loved the book at the same time - a remarkable feat.
Balkrishna Rao
Sep 15, 2008 Balkrishna Rao rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: everyone
Recommended to Balkrishna by: Time magazine
One of the best books of the twentieth century.I have read it umpteen times and neverfail to gain new insights into it.
Jan 10, 2016 CG FEWSTON rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Daniel Martin (1977) by John Fowles—as he says in an interview found at the back of his fifth book, what some might call a romance void of romance—relates to being mostly about his exploits in childhood and in America, and what Christopher Lehmann-Haupt describes in his New York Times review called “Un-Inventing the Novel” (dated September 13, 1977) as Mr. Fowles’s attempt to pointedly “uninvent the nihilistic novel of the absurd.”

The 629-page cynical bildungsroman explores the story of a Hollyw
Apr 28, 2011 Lainy added it
This book was way too long. It was interesting, but I didn't have the patience to finish it.
Andrew McClarnon
This was a re-read after 25 years - and so 'whatever' this time round. There are scenes in it which live on in the memory - even change in the memory - but the thread that ties them together is just so metaphysical that it gets to be exhausting - and too often clumsy (Just like this review). I think I know what he means by 'Whole sight; or all the rest is desolation', but said like this, that thought seems awkward and lumpy.

I am working my way towards more stars as I think about it - there is a
Natalie Petchnikow
La cinquantaine venue, Daniel Martin regagne l'Angleterre après une expérience ratée de scénariste à Hollywood et nombre de déboires sentimentaux. Lui reviennent les souvenirs d'une enfance à la campagne, pendant la guerre, puis les années d'apprentissage à Oxford. Comme toute sa génération, il a mêlé à un désir sincère de changer la société celui, non moins évident, de l'argent et du succès. Quelle a été l'erreur ? De quand datent le dévoiement, la dérive ?
Daniel retrouvera la femme qu'il a con
Jun 19, 2016 Jess rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Lori Mcfarlane
Jan 07, 2016 Lori Mcfarlane rated it it was amazing
Since first reading this novel in a modern fiction class in college, Daniel Martin has retained its place as one of my top favorite books of all time.

This book is no quick and easy read. The plot develops slowly yet steadily, like life. No details are omitted. Deep introspection of the narrator and thorough psychoanalysis of the supporting characters accompanies every small moment. Reading this book is like reading God's diary. How do I even begin to describe this novel?

It is the most intelligen
John Smith
Jul 07, 2013 John Smith rated it it was amazing
I found this to be the most satisfying work of Fowles's that I've read (can't include The Collector yet). It has the ambiguous and shifting point-of-view, self-reference, and metafictional structure you'd expect. Some reviewers have called it "self-absorbed" and "navel-gazing;" I found it the most outward-looking of anything I've read of Fowles's, although there is much "self-disillusionment." But navel-gazing implies narcissism and even solipsism, which Fowles rejects ("A perfect world would ...more
Shirley Schwartz
This is a book about middle-aged angst. The protagonist is Daniel Martin, and we catch up with him living in California. He's in his forties, and living with a twenty-something actress. Both are from the UK and trying to make their way in Hollywood, Daniel as a screenwriter and Jenny as an actress. John Fowles is an excellent and very literate author. His character descriptions, and his descriptions of the feelings and emotions that Daniel faces in his mid-life crisis are breathtaking. The book ...more
I liked this book because I missed Fowles' winding, scrupulous style of storytelling, when an intellectual detour and various philosophic allusions make you think about more fundamental elements of human lives. Nonetheless I think that the story might have benefited from being a little more compact.
As this book follows themes of Fowles' other stories in its preoccupation with past decisions, mistakes or plain misunderstandings it reeks of nostalgia. And this nostalgia is not only coming from th
Mark Joyce
Sep 02, 2016 Mark Joyce rated it it was ok
One of the most tedious books I’ve ever read to completion. A cast of self-absorbed, unlikeable characters bemoan their over-privileged lives at tedious length, making incredibly pretentious literary and classical references along the way. Had Daniel Martin been written by anybody other than John Fowles I would almost certainly have packed it in after the first hundred pages or so of middle-aged self pity. However, I couldn’t quite believe that the author of The Magus, The Collector and The ...more
Sergiy Svitlooky
Jun 22, 2016 Sergiy Svitlooky rated it liked it
Shelves: xx-century
John Fowles is one of my favorite writers of all times. I deeply praise his rich, colorful language, his narration, his talent in explaining and describing human motivation and actions. Daniel Martin seemed like a good next book after the Magus. The huge novel works well on many levels: its language is beautiful, characters are vivid, even the ending looks plausible. The premises look promising -- main character lost on his way tries to figure out the right way to fix things. For that purpose he ...more
Justin Mitchell
It is unfortunate to see a writer I have so much respect for and consider one of my personal favorites to regress into bourgeois navel gazing, but John "The Magus and The Collector" Fowles has done just that with Daniel Martin. The writing is very good. The characters and scenes are vibrantly realized. It's just that the central story is quite simply dull, self-indulgent, and uncompelling...and this is coming from one of the most compelling writers I have ever read, in a novel that John ...more
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John Robert Fowles was born in Leigh-on-Sea, a small town located about 40 miles from London in the county of Essex, England. He recalls the English suburban culture of the 1930s as oppressively conformist and his family life as intensely conventional. Of his childhood, Fowles says "I have tried to escape ever since."

Fowles attended Bedford School, a large boarding school designed to prepare boys
More about John Fowles...

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“She smiled at him as they waited for their dessert, her chin poised on her clasped hands.
'You're being very silent.'
'That's how men cry.”
“Я мог бы влюбиться в неё по уши и стал бы невыносимо требовательным, предъявляя на неё собственные права; но я слишком часто грешил этим прежде, чтобы не знать, что стремление лишить партнёра независимости прямым путём ведёт к беде. Желание обладать тесно связано с желанием изменить, переделать; а она очень нравилась мне такой, какой была. Так же как фраза «Я верю в Бога» часто означает просто «Я верю, что нет необходимости думать», слова «Я тебя люблю» слишком часто оказываются иносказанием «Я хочу обладать тобою».” 1 likes
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