French Lieutenant's Woman (Fowles)

The French Lieutenant's Woman
John Fowles, 1969
Little, Brown & Company
467 pp.
ISBN-13: 9780316291163

In a feat of seductive storytelling, John Fowles immerses us in the emotionally charged world of a Victorian love triangle and, through a startling act of literary invention, reveals the image of modern man reflected in the past. The French Lieutenant's Woman is perhaps the most beloved of Fowles's internationally best selling novels; it is universally regarded as a modern classic. (From the publisher.)

The French Lieutenant's Woman, on one level a historical romance, is on another level an audacious, innovative experiment in storytelling. The novel portrays Victorian characters living in 1867, but the narrator / author, writing in 1967, intervenes with wry, ironic commentary. The plot centers on Charles Smithson who is engaged to Ernestina Freeman, a conventional, wealthy woman. But after a series of clandestine trysts with a beautiful, mysterious woman, he breaks off the engagement. The woman, Sarah Woodruff, a social outcast, is the reputed lover of a French lieutenant who has deserted her—and Charles first sees her waiting on the pier for his return. The intrusive narrator / author, who offers readers different endings, encourages us to reach our own conclusions. (From the publisher.)

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