Bookish Discussions

The French Lieutenant’s Woman: The Greatest Post-Modern Novel Ever?



“We are all in flight from the real reality. That is the basic definition of Homo Sapiens.”

3 out of 5 stars

Read: 14 January – 17 January, 2019


I was asked to read John Fowles’ The French Lieutenant’s Woman for my Victorian Afterlives seminar. I’m not saying I was glad to be assigned it, but that’s also kind of what I’m saying. It’s a tricky one to review because I loved the post-modern and neo-Victorian aspects of the book, but I hated the actual plot. Do you see what I mean? I don’t know how I can be at such crossroads with a book, but, alas, here I am.

It’s about Charles Smithson, a respectable and engaged middle-class man, who falls in love with Sarah Woodruff – the French Lieutenant’s Woman. Sarah is a fallen woman in her own right, staring out to sea, waiting for her man to return. There is much more to her story, as we see through Charles, who gradually falls in love with her. Their romance ‘defies all the stifling conventions of the Victorian age‘.

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