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Hachette Book Group
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The French Lieutenant's Woman Kindle Edition
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The narrator's voice insistently reminds the reader that this novel is set in 1867 (the novel was written in 1969) and also comments on Victorian mores as the novel goes along, making what is known in Philosophy as "meta-comments", that is comments about the novel itself. As the novel progresses towards its end, this voice becomes ever more apparent, especially during the most famous part of the novel, in which Fowles presents his reader with three alternative endings. What is magical is how Fowles manages to do this without annoying the reader. Five stars.
The story traces the growing passion of the at first conventional Charles for the mysterious Sarah Woodruff, a.k.a. the French Lieutenant's Woman (or Whore). This runs right into his engagement to sweet and shallow (and rich) Ernestina, and eventually into his entire vision of life. Various interesting minor and not-so-minor characters abound, giving the same sense that one has in a "real" Victorian novel -- of a fully populated world, full of people who are interesting for their own sakes, as well as active in the plot. I was reminded of Eliot, Dickens, and so forth (and, more frivolously, of Caryl Brahms' 1940 pastische, "Don't, Mr. Disraeli").
I can't recommend this book too highly. I look forward to rereading it -- not something I commit to very often, these days -- and to taking the time to savor the many delights it offers. In the meantime, I will watch the movie.
Is this a novel? I wish I knew. Giving the book three different endings gives me choices I wish I didn't have to make.
I had to concentrate, but I found it a ruddy good read.
The characters are so well described that I feel like I see them. The minute detail, even the useless ones are so interesting that I could not skip any single paragraph. In the end, the main character of the story turned out to be the Victorian Age.
Most fascinating and intriguing.