• The French Lieutenant's Woman

  • By: John Fowles
  • Narrated by: Paul Shelley
  • Length: 17 hrs and 5 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Release date: 02-24-05
  • Language: English
  • Publisher: Audible Studios
  • 3.9 (603 ratings)

Regular price: $28.03

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Publisher's Summary

At Lyme Regis on the Dorset coast, a young Victorian amateur palaentologist, Charles Smithson, is struck by a solitary figure standing at the far end of the Cobb, staring out to sea. It is Sarah Woodruff, known to the locals as 'poor Tragedy' since her apparent liaison with a French sailor who has since deserted her. Although Charles is already engaged to a young heiress, he is immediately beguiled and eventually infatuated with Sarah.
©1969 John Fowles;
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Critic Reviews

"Paul Shelley's subtle presentation does full justice to Fowles' artful, mysterious tale....Never once does he lose the listener as the author moves between the past and present, commenting on Victorian customs, politics, and morays. And never once does he give away the novel's surprise ending. Enthusiastically recommended." (AudioFile)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

By Richard on 04-29-05

Great drama, great reader.

There was a big-time film version of this novel, with fine stars. I saw it but can't remember it. This presentation is one I will never forget. If you liked the film, which I dimly recall presents a romance between two cast members as well as the one in the film itself, I think you will like this much better. It is the most enjoyable and unusual writing about Victorian times I know of and the narration by Paul Shelley is perfection. Just be warned. This is not light reading and the ending may stun a sensitive soul. Like me.

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26 of 26 people found this review helpful


By Darwin8u on 09-16-13

Writes with a sharp elegance that is breathtaking

The reason I am drawn to literature, to art, to books considered to be classics, is to watch some middle-aged, bearded man put on a pair of (excuse the flamboyant analogy) skates and suddenly pitch himself into the center of the ring and pull off a triple Salchow. I love risk-taking, experimental literature. With 'The French Lieutenant's Woman', Fowles is boldly moving in a lot of directions at once (pushing down fourth walls [Chapter 13], jumping forward and backward in time, throwing himself into the path of the protagonist Charles) and manages to control it all with a sharp elegance that is breathtaking.

He (re)creates a Victorian period novel and then deconstructs, dissects and parodies it while we watch. He bends into it elements of Darwinian and Marxist thought (two revolutionary Men who lived during this period, but are never displayed in the works of the Brontës, Hardy, Gaskell, Dickens or Trollope. Doing so, he subverts both the age and the novel. 'The French Lieutenant's Woman' is a work of genius and a book that teased and challenged me on almost every page as I read it.

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39 of 40 people found this review helpful

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

By Liz on 07-05-15

Perfect Narrator

Would you listen to The French Lieutenant's Woman again? Why?

Yes, just to listen to Paul Shelley's beautiful reading - perfect timbre, mellifluous voice, good grasp of character and accent. For me, he is the best audiobook reader there is.

What other book might you compare The French Lieutenant's Woman to, and why?

Difficult to match John Fowles' mix of good story and high themes - perhaps Penelope Lively (Moon Tiger comes to mind) or A S Byatt when she remembers to be entertaining as well as erudite (Posession?).

Which scene did you most enjoy?

When Charles comes across the sleeping Sarah when he is out walking, although nothing beats the description of his first sight of her on the Cobb.

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

No, too long and I wanted to savour the reading.

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2 of 2 people found this review helpful


By The One Who Reads on 05-07-17

multi layered

A historical novel like no other : the enigmatic Sarah remains an enigma to the end and the two time perspectives of the story make for a fascinating and unsettling read.

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