The French Lieutenant's Woman Author:John Fowles Once again the seductive art of one of the great contemporary storytellers guides the reader into the labyrinthine world in which reality and illusion slide interchangeably and gracefully across the mind. Beginning as a novel one of the Victorian novelists simply failed to write, "The French Lieutenant's Woman" opens the complex Victorian world ... more »of the 1860"s and 70's to the perspective of time and imagination and allows us to see the image of modern man reflected in the past.
The technique employed enables the author to enter the story from the vantage point of the present and, looking back a hundred years, make first person commentaries on various salient aspects of the Victorian scene...politics, religion, science, economic conditions, social customs, sexual mores and moral attitudes. It is the mixture of superb storytelling with the illumination from the perspective of a century that makes "The french Lieutenant's Woman" so utterly compelling.
The scene is the village of Lyme Regis on Dorset's 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, thirty-two, a gentleman of independent means and vaguely scientific bent; his fiancee, Ernestina Freeman, a pretty heiress daughter of a wealthy and pompous dry goods merchant; and Sarah Woodruff, mysterious and fascinating...deserted after a brief affair with a French naval officer a short time before the story begins. Obsessed with an irresistible fascination for the enigmatic Sarah, Charles is hurtled by a moment of consummated lust to the brink of the existential void. Duty dictates that his engagement to Tina must be broken as he goes forth once again to seek the woman who has captured his Victorian soul and gentleman's heart.« less