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The French Lieutenant's Woman

3.86  ·  Rating details ·  42,152 Ratings  ·  1,411 Reviews
The scene is the village of Lyme Regis on Dorset's Lyme Bay..."the largest bite from the underside of England's out-stretched southwestern leg." The major characters in the love-intrigue triangle are Charles Smithson, 32, a gentleman of independent means & vaguely scientific bent; his fiancée, Ernestina Freeman, a pretty heiress daughter of a wealthy & pompous dry ...more
Paperback, Vintage Classics, 470 pages
Published 2009 by Vintage (first published 1969)
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Mauri I was quite mature as a 12-year-old, reading books that were rated for older readers, but I can definitely say that I personally would not have…moreI was quite mature as a 12-year-old, reading books that were rated for older readers, but I can definitely say that I personally would not have enjoyed this book as much as a 12-year-old as I did as a 20-year-old. It's not necessarily about the erotic scenes, but more about the complexity of relationships, feelings and struggles with social expectations that the characters in the book experience, that I could not have related to as well as a very young girl. (less)

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Jul 21, 2010 rated it liked it
With a title like The French Lieutenant’s Woman, it’s gotta be a romance novel with a cover featuring some Fabio-like male model in a 19th century French army uniform that’s ripped to pieces to expose his abs as some buxom wench showing a lot of thigh clings to him, and he waves a sword in the air? No?

Oh, so it was the basis for some award winning movie with Meryl Streep back in the ‘80s? Then it’s got to be some boring-ass lame period piece with all kinds of proper English folk walking around w
I think the greatest strength of this book is the utter uniqueness of it. I don't think I've ever read a book like it. It is set in the Victorian year of 1867, and yet, the sensibility of the book is thoroughly grounded in the 1960s (when it was written). The language, metaphors, and focus of the book all come from the 1960s, and the actions of the characters are all given the lens of the highly visible author- who is in fact one of the major characters of the book (much in the style of Thackera ...more
Simona Bartolotta
Sep 25, 2017 rated it it was amazing
“Because.... because, I do not know, I live among people the world tells me are kind, pious, Christian people. And they seem to me crueller than the cruellest heathens, stupider than the stupidest animals.”

The French Lieutenant's Woman is a baffling book. It baffled me and I have no doubt it has left a trail of baffled readers behind it. I wonder why no one has blurbed it with “The French Lieutenant's Woman, proudly baffling people since 1969” yet. It would be the most honest blurb in history fo
“I am infinitely strange to myself.”
― John Fowles, The French Lieutenant's Woman


The reason I am drawn to literature, to art, to books considered to be classics, is to watch some middle-aged, bearded man put on a pair of (excuse the flamboyant analogy) skates and suddenly pitch himself into the center of the ring and pull off a triple Salchow. I love risk-taking, experimental literature. With 'The French Lieutenant's Woman', Fowles is boldly moving in a lot of directions at once (pushing down f
Maria Clara
Apr 20, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
¿Puede un libro compararse a un té? ¿Puede uno beber sus páginas a sorbos, en una lluviosa tarde de invierno? ¿Puede uno saborear cada palabra como si fuera una gota de una infusión aún por descubrir? A veces, uno abandona la última página de un libro enamorado de sus protagonistas; otras veces, con la sensación de haber perdido el tiempo; y pocas, con un sabor entre amargo y dulce. En este caso, ni me he enamorado de sus protagonistas ni he tenido la sensación de haber perdido el tiempo y mucho ...more
Deniz Balcı
Jan 06, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ingiliz-edebiyat
Son zamanlarda okuduğum en farklı roman diyebilirim. Fowles'ın şimdiye kadar okuduğum eserleri içinde en sevdiğim açıkçası "Büyücü". Halen o kitabın etkisini üzerimden atamadım. Fakat bu kitabında çok sarsıcı bir etkisi oldu üzerinde. Kitabı okurken yer yer bu romanın nasıl bu kadar önemli hale geldiğini sorgulama ihtiyacı hissediyordum aslında. Kendi kendime Victoryen Dönemi içerisinde postmadambovaryci bir kitap okuduğumu sanıyordum ve Sarah karakterini de Madam Bovary'e bir alternatif olarak ...more
Jun 20, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Once You Show Me Your Magic's Secrets, The Magic is Gone
[3.5 rounded up to 4]

You should know first off that I'm no fan of novels in which the author inserts him/herself by making crafty little comments that serve to remind me he made the damn thing up and/or to entertain the author by allowing her to toy with the conventions of storytelling.

I come to a novel to read a story that speaks truth and to lose myself in another world, and I hope the novel is a really good one that provokes me to me le
The writer slides a blank sheet of paper into his typewriter. His fingers hover over the "asdfjkl;" like a pianist ready to tackle the Moonlight Sonata. Then he withdraws them and gazes pensively into the distance at the grey sea and even greyer sea wall keeping its salty waters at bay. He had had a vision in his head of a woman walking by the sea, all shrouded in the cloak. Something about her called to him. He wants to start writing but something is stopping him.

Now you might wonder what it i
Aug 13, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: literature
All writers create worlds that do not exist – so there should be no qualms that this novel recreates a world, a very Victorian world, a world populated with its own people, all now long dead, that had its own writers and chroniclers, all also now very much dead, that had its own ideas and tendencies and fears and preferences and prejudices, all of which we can no longer now really hold as our own, should there? (Or was the gap too long for you to remember that the subject of that sentence was so ...more
I thoroughly enjoyed this book! The story wasn't what I expected it to be at all. I expected the story to be similar to Madame Bovary and the writing style of the author to be more Victorian, seeing as the story was set in that era, but it's actually quite modern. This book made me an instant fan of John Fowles. He writes very intelligently and although he plays the role of narrator in the 19th Century, his perception is that of a 20th Century writer, which makes the book even more interesting. ...more
Xavier Guillaume
Dec 09, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Literature nerds like me
Recommended to Xavier by: James Sarver
Sarah is one of the most remarkable female characters of modern literature. She's a mixture of Jane Eyre, Hester Prynne, and Ophelia, a woman who has experienced much hardship, yet is strong and steadfast, like a sad statue, and slightly mad. Although, I'm torn, is it inaccurate to call Sarah mad? I suppose one could write a whole academic paper on that topic alone. She's not crazy to the Ophelian point where she belongs in a mental institution; perhaps, today we would just label her as having d ...more
Aslıhan Çelik Tufan
Apr 04, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2018
Beklentileriniz nedir ne ararsınız bilemem ama Fowles i benim gibi Büyücü sonrası okumaya devam ediyorsanız, hayranlıktan ağzınız açık kalıp sonunda alkış tutmak isteyebilirsiniz. Bana öyle oldu ordan biliyorum.

Okuyunuz efenim!
K.D. Absolutely
Aug 21, 2009 rated it really liked it
Recommended to K.D. by: 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die (2006-2012)
Definitely an engaging read because of the way it is crafted. John Fowles is the implied narrator that is revealed in the end and through a toss of coin presents two possible endings to the story. I have read 1,200+ books so far and I have not seen anything like this until this book. This alone firms up my belief that this book deserves its inclusion in the Time 100 Best Novels of the 20th Century and its seemingly permanent inclusion in the 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die.

Sarah Woodruff
Feb 22, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Fantástica novela, un afortunado y exitoso intento de explicar la época y sociedad del XIX a través de una historia de corte victoriano y utilizando recursos de la literatura de la época, aunque, como pasando por ahí, se realizan comentarios acerca de la nuestra

"... ellos se afanaban en edificar; y nosotros llevamos tanto tiempo demoliéndolo todo, que cualquier nueva construcción nos parece tan efímera como una pompa de jabón."

o lucubraciones filosóficas o políticas que valen para cualquiera de
Jul 14, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Hem farklı roman okuması ve hem de roman yazımı tekniği ile üzerinde biraz düşündüren ve entelektüel birikime katkı da bulunan bir eser olduğunu düşünüyorum.
Roman Clodia
May 22, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Neo-Victorian seems like a modern genre (The Crimson Petal and the White, Fingersmith) but Fowles did it earlier (1969) and decisively. Here he gives us a pastiche of the Victorian courtship-and-marriage story while simultaneously deconstructing the genre, Victorian culture and the ideologies which both forged and challenged the age.

In the foreground is the eminently-acceptable betrothal of Charles and Ernestina, she the heiress of an upmarket tradesman (we find out late in the book that he see
Mar 12, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Okuduğum ilk John Fowles romanı. Aslında sıra bana kalsa Koleksiyoncu, Büyücü ve Fransız Teğmen’in Kadını olarak planlardım okumamı -ki zaten öyle niyetlenmiştim- ama grupta Mart ayı okuması için seçilince planımı birazcık değiştirme yoluna gittim.

Yazar Viktorya Dönemi’de kurguladığı bu romanı gerek o dönemin insan tiplerini ve onların karakteristik özelliklerini ve gerekse de toplumun genel olarak durumunu -kendisi o dönemde yaşamamış olsa da- çok güzel yansıtmış. Başlarda -daha çok kendi durum
Emma Deplores Goodreads Censorship
Let’s call it 3.25 stars. This novel is basically one big gimmick. Fowles writes well and has done his research, so he pulls off the gimmick fairly well. But it is still a gimmick, and the story itself isn’t strong enough to stand on its own. This review will contain some SPOILERS.

The story consists of a simple love triangle involving Charles (the gentleman), Ernestina (his proper young fiancée) and Sarah (the mysterious “fallen” woman). It makes a thin plot for a 467-page book; what sets the bo
Nov 19, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Fantastic book, and not at all what I expected. I was expecting a contemporary Victorian novel - perhaps a "Scarlett Letter" written in the 1880s. Imagine my surprise upon finding out that, in fact, its this weird, fascinating, post-modern version of a Victorian novel written in the 1960s. So cool. The author narrates his story in an unusual way; it's funny because he goes out of his way to make you remember that it's not just a story, but a story he made up and that he is telling, complete with ...more
I have now read the first three books written by John Fowles, in the order of publication, without even trying. I love when things like that happen.

What I adore about Fowles is that he wrote these novels that seem like mere novels on the outside, but on the inside they are filled with art and beauty and some incredible genius. At first I thought this one would be straightforward in comparison to the first two books (The Collector and The Magus), and initially I had some trouble getting into the
I know that I read this one many years ago but couldn't remember very much about it. I appreciated it more with this second reading many years later. An unusual delivery with the story set in Victorian times with a modern day twist. Charles Smithson, a man torn between his future marriage and duty to Ernestina and his lust for the more earthy and forbidden Sarah Woodruff, the French Lieutenants Woman. Poor Charles torn between his wallet, position and his heart. When reading this novel I felt mo ...more
Nov 21, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
4,5. He disfrutado mucho de esta lectura. El mérito lo tiene Fowles, que ha jugado conmigo, se ha reído de sus personajes pero también los ha perfilado de manera impecable, me ha enseñado una época, la victoriana, y toda su hipocresía y sus formalismos. Protagonistas complejos. Una narración con detalle, con ironía, con humor y con pasión.
Ahora me falta ver la película (aunque no es una adaptación total de la novela).
Abstenerse todos aquellos que no disfruten con la ironía.
Oct 10, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
büyücü'den sonra en çok merak ettiğim romanı buydu fowles'un. viktorya dönemi ingilteresini tüm iki yüzlülüğüyle anlatırken bir aşk hikâyesini kuruyor. bunu da okura anlatarak yapıyor, hem tanrı anlatıcı oluyor, hem de postmodern romanlardaki gibi araya girip okurla konuşuyor, açıklamalar yapıyor... romanın sonu da bambaşka bir yaratıcılık örneği.
kurgu ve anlatım olarak büyücü'den çok daha ileride ama viktorya dönemi ingilteresi ne sıkıcıymış be kardeşim :/
bu arada o dönemde yaşamış darwin ve ma
Oct 20, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I'm considering having t-shirts made.

They will either be a hodgepodge of John Fowles quotes that I find tremendously thought provoking and profound, a tour date of the freaky head-trips his books have put me on, or quite simply I (Heart) John Fowles.

I don't like this book nearly as much as the other two I've already read this year The Magus or The Collector, and I still think it's better than most everything else out there.

Part of this stems from the fact that I, like Fowles, am a Literary nerd
Lars Egler
Feb 29, 2008 rated it liked it
I know this book is supposed to be all quirky post-modern/Victorian and that lots of people think it's amazing. Me... not so much. I just got the impression that the author was just a little too pleased with himself and his interjections into the story itself. While I recognize the merit/intelligence of said exposition, I guess I just really wanted a good, straight-forward fiction and not a lesson on the dichotomies of the Victorian psyche or the sly referneces to god, destiny, the power of the ...more
Apr 01, 2012 rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2012
This book was both admirable and frustrating. It never seemed to end (and that is only in part because it actually has three endings). Part Victorian melodrama, part sociological study; I felt like the author was looking at the characters from under a microscope. Occasionally he takes time to lecture on the specimens all the while reminding the reader that it just fiction and deliberates if it is he or the reader who is the post-modern deity who determines the story. The story has three main cha ...more
Il romanziere resta sempre un dio, dal momento che crea (neanche il più aleatorio dei moderni romanzi d’avanguardia è riuscito a sopprimere completamente il suo autore); ciò che è cambiato è che non siamo più gli déi dell’immagine vittoriana, onniscienti e sentenziosi; ma déi secondo una nuova immagine teologica, e il nostro principio fondamentale è la libertà, non l’autorità.

Il titolo “La donna del tenente francese” ha sempre avuto su di me un forte potere evocativo legato al ricordo infant
Dana Loo
Ci si può innamorare di un romanzo?? E sinceramente: possiamo definire questo lavoro di Fowles, autore in questo caso geniale, un semplice romanzo?? Penso proprio di no!!
Ma è davvero importante definirlo in qualche modo?? Saggio vittoriano acutissimo e minuzioso, romanzo storico, postmoderno, psicologico, meta romanzo e chi ne ha più ne metta. So solo che mi ha letteralmente travolto e affascinato con la sua scrittura magistrale, ricca di ironico disincanto, di digressioni e dissertazioni antrop
Jan 02, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: metafiction, 2016
I guess I thought this book would be weirder. It's hyper-aware of itself - its narrator, coming at you from the presentish day, keeps pointing out his own Victorian cliches as he writes them, and he makes it clear that he's perfectly willing to go back and change his own story. (The book in fact ends three different times and ways.) But he doesn't actually end up unreliable. He changes his story, but doesn't subvert it. And the story itself doesn't hold water for me: Sarah Woodruff's attraction ...more
Jan 21, 2009 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to C. by: Glenda
I loved the post-modern aspects of this, which I thought were very well done. I was less enthusiastic about the story, which appeared to be told by an arrogant twat who thought he knew what women were about and who spent a lot of time criticising Victorian sensibilities while simultaneously (but more subtly) regaling us with his own, more pernicious brand of 1960's sexism. However, I haven't read enough Victorian literature to know how much of it was Victorian and how much of it was Fowles', so ...more
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John Robert Fowles was born in Leigh-on-Sea, a small town in Essex. He recalled the English suburban culture of the 1930s as oppressively conformist and his family life as intensely conventional. Of his childhood, Fowles said "I have tried to escape ever since."

Fowles attended Bedford School, a large boarding school designed to prepare boys for university, from ages 13 to 18. After briefly attendi
“We all write poems; it is simply that poets are the ones who write in words.” 138 likes
“I am infinitely strange to myself.” 102 likes
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