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French Lieutenant's Woman (Fowles) - Discussion Questions

Discussion Questions 
Use our LitLovers Book Club Resources; they can help with discussions for any book:

How to Discuss a Book (helpful discussion tips)
Generic Discussion Questions—Fiction and Nonfiction
Read-Think-Talk (a guided reading chart)

Also consider these LitLovers talking points to help get a discussion started for The French Lieutenant's Woman

1. Charles Smithson (Fowles is playing here with James Smithson, the founder of the Smithsonian museum) is hunting fossils and meditating on Darwin's challenge to the old scientific order when he stumbles upon a new species—Sarah Woodruff. How does the idea of a new vs. old order pervade this book in terms of its characters and in terms of Fowles's reworking of fiction?

2. What is your attitude toward the book's different endings? What is Fowles trying to do? Which ending do you prefer? Which one do you think is most realistic? Would you have preferred a single ending?

3. Are you willing to give up on a narrator's or writer's authority to control events of a story? Are you comfortable or uncomfortable with that idea? (You might also consider Ian McEwan's Atonement—how that story also offers competing versions of "reality.")

2. Freedom from societal conventions is an overriding theme in this novel. How do the each of the characters respond to the social constraints of Victorian society? How does Fowles, as an author, confront the constraints of traditional storytelling?

5. Discuss the characteristics of Charles, Tina, and Sarah. Is Charles worthy of Sarah?

(Questions by LitLovers. Please feel free to use, online or off, with attribution. Thanks.)

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