The French Lieutenant’s Woman by John Fowles

When I saw this book on my university reading list, I put it off until just a week before the final exam because it just didn’t sound like something I would enjoy; the blurb makes it sound like a simple Victorian love-triangle. However, now I have read it, I can say that I don’t think that the blurb does it any justice.

After the first few pages I got completely absorbed into the story and despite having not read consistently for months now, I found myself really wanting to pick this back up to see what was going to happen. The narrative style is something that I haven’t come across before; the narrator is in the 1960s narrating the Victorian story but with interjections about his own opinions and age. This unique style was something that really helped me to digest some of the more complicated themes discussed and although some sections were a little confusing, I found that I still enjoyed it overall.

Themes such as Victorian sexuality and morality are discussed in depth, highlighting the downfalls of the Victorian ideal but it never seems to be preaching, more just bringing another view of events.

The characters were all very realistic; I hated them at points and loved them at others. Every one of them was flawed in some way.

Another unique thing about this novel is that there are multiple endings, leaving the conclusion to the story a little ambiguous. I can understand how this could irritate some people but it suited the narration style perfectly and left the ending up to the reader’s imagination.

Overall I would highly recommend this novel to anyone that likes reading about different time periods. With the Victorian age illuminated by the 1960s perspective, you really get a broad sense of British history and the changes that have taken place since the Victorian period.

4 out of 5 stars!

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