One of John Fowles's most acclaimed books, THE FRENCH LIEUTENANT'S WOMAN examines the developing relationship between Charles Smithson, a young Victorian gentleman, and Sarah Woodruff, a mysterious woman he encounters while vacationing in the coastal town of Lyme Regis. Although engaged to be married to the conventionally suitable Ernestina Freeman, the daughter of a wealthy business owner, Charles finds himself fascinated by Sarah, who is gossiped about and shunned by many of the townspeople. They believe that she is pining for a French sailor, with whom she is said to have engaged in an affair. As Charles and Sarah become closer--putting his relationship with Ernestina at some risk--she gradually reveals her true tale to him.
Although the events of the novel begin in 1867, a narrator occasionally interjects, making 20th-century references and commenting on the mores of Victorian society. Additionally, toward the end of the book, readers are presented with various possible conclusions, including one in which Sarah and Charles are happily united and one in which they part on bitter terms. When THE FRENCH LIEUTENANT'S WOMAN was first published, in 1969, those literary devices were seen as daring and innovative choices on the part of Fowles, who was uniquely amenable to allowing an intimate glimpse into his creative process.
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- May 1, 1998
- May 1, 1998
- John Fowles