We are currently making improvements to the Audible site. In an effort to enhance the accessibility experience for our customers, we have created a page to more easily navigate the new experience, available at the web address www.audible.com/access.
 >   > 
The French Lieutenant's Woman | [John Fowles]

The French Lieutenant's Woman

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.
Regular Price:$28.03
  • Membership Details:
    • First book free with 30-day trial
    • $14.95/month thereafter for your choice of 1 new book each month
    • Cancel easily anytime
    • Exchange books you don't like
    • All selected books are yours to keep, even if you cancel
  • - or -

Your Likes make Audible better!

'Likes' are shared on Facebook and Audible.com. We use your 'likes' to improve Audible.com for all our listeners.

You can turn off Audible.com sharing from your Account Details page.

OK

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;

What the Critics Say

"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)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

3.8 (463 )
5 star
 (160)
4 star
 (143)
3 star
 (99)
2 star
 (37)
1 star
 (24)
Overall
3.9 (240 )
5 star
 (91)
4 star
 (71)
3 star
 (50)
2 star
 (17)
1 star
 (11)
Story
4.1 (234 )
5 star
 (102)
4 star
 (76)
3 star
 (39)
2 star
 (11)
1 star
 (6)
Performance
Sort by:
  •  
    Bird Lady 147 02-25-15 Member Since 2015
    HELPFUL VOTES
    30
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    49
    30
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    3
    0
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Narration was not the best..."

    I knew the story had seen the film and always wanted to read the book. I may go back one day and read the print version as I did not care for the narration and once I have a dislike for a narration I can't lose myself in the story as audio usually lets me do.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    perspective 02-08-15
    perspective 02-08-15 Member Since 2015
    HELPFUL VOTES
    1
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    36
    13
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
    0
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Far too long!"

    struggled to finish! It took a while to begin to enjoy. The enjoyment was sporadic, although the narrative voice and expirementation with the narrator was interesting,. possibly the most interesting aspect of the text.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Can't just sit and listen VA 03-04-14

    I like to listen while I exercise, do housework, knit, etc., so I usually prefer a light read for an audiobook.

    HELPFUL VOTES
    8
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    7
    6
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    1
    0
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Well written but got a bit too postmo at the end"
    Would you listen to The French Lieutenant's Woman again? Why?

    No. The ending has a really bizarre twist which kind of ruins it for another read.


    Any additional comments?

    Some of the writing is exceptional. However, it is also very self-aware. A 'writerly' text almost more than a 'readerly' one.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Joe Kraus Kingston, PA, United States 02-18-14
    Joe Kraus Kingston, PA, United States 02-18-14 Member Since 2011
    HELPFUL VOTES
    22
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    43
    43
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    2
    1
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Builds on Itself from Good to Great"
    What did you like best about this story?

    I thought I knew where this was going at the start: in what seemed an interesting but conventional experiment, Fowles used the form of the Victorian novel to encompass the unspeakable passions of an early Modern one; that is, it felt like Jane Austen meeting D.H. Lawrence.I liked that part of the novel well enough, and the narration -- crisp and formal in an upper-class English fashion -- complemented it. I'd just finished reading Austen's Persuasion, so it felt all of a piece.

    Then, and I do not want to spoil the wonder with too much detail, the novel turns into something altogether different. It leaps stylistically from 1840 to 1915 to 1970 in massive strides, and it rips you from one aesthetic/moral frame to another. It's disconcerting in what it asks of you, but the effect is brilliant: you're asked as a reader to experience the disorientation of its point-of-view character as he too confronts a radically transforming Victorian world view. And Paul Shelley somehow (and subtly) captures that transformation. I think the speed of his narration picks up, but I can't be certain even there. All I know is that his voice ceases to be as comforting and, at the same time as the bottom of the novel drops out, something in the overall sound becomes more insistent, harder to turn off.

    As brilliant as all that is, the novel grows even more complex in its multiple attempts to answer the central mystery confronting that character. The book is both provocatively feminist and misogynistic at the same time; it feels as if it's anticipating your responses and then subverting them, too.

    I knew the reputation of the book as one of the major accomplishments of the later 20th century, but couldn't know until finishing it that it lives up to it. I could have stopped half way through and admired it. I had to get to the end to realize how extraordinary an achievement it is.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jen Johannesburg 01-28-13
    Jen Johannesburg 01-28-13
    HELPFUL VOTES
    2
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    9
    7
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
    0
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Irritating but also captivating"

    I found the author thoroughly irritating because he kept putting his voice into the story, talking about the writing of it. I'm sure there's some great literary reason for this, but it just kept pulling me out of the story. The storyline captivated me though, and it's stayed in my thoughts. Despite the irritating side lines from the author, this book was beautifully written and written in such a way that what might have been a fairly mundane story was instead transformed into something that felt incredibly personal and evocative. Narration was good, took me a few minutes to get into it but then I was hooked - this seems to be the norm for me with audio books.

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    K. Uddu 12-30-12
    K. Uddu 12-30-12
    HELPFUL VOTES
    1
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    128
    2
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
    0
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "One star book, but a good reading performance"
    What would have made The French Lieutenant's Woman better?

    If the author had stuck to the story and dropped his increasingly interrupting asides about the victorian period relative to his perspective when he was about to retell the story from another angle. What I originally thought would be a creative read, became a tedious listen and toward the end, I found myself completely tuned out during his diatribes and needed to rewind when I finally tuned back in to discover that the story had finally continued.


    Has The French Lieutenant's Woman turned you off from other books in this genre?

    No, only from this author.


    What does Paul Shelley bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

    I would have put the book down by halfway through as the author's interruptions became worse and worse as the book progressed, but the narrator was an engaging reader for me. I don't understand how he managed to read such a tedious book so well.


    You didn’t love this book... but did it have any redeeming qualities?

    A good pair of scissors and a hard copy would redeem it for me.


    Any additional comments?

    I hate to give negative reviews and I can even enjoy an authors interference in a plot line, but this book was excessive.

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Linda Cherokee Village, AR, United States 01-09-12
    Linda Cherokee Village, AR, United States 01-09-12
    HELPFUL VOTES
    3
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    1
    1
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
    0
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Unbelievably Boring and Pointless"
    What could John Fowles have done to make this a more enjoyable book for you?

    Stop interrupting the story with reminders that it IS only a story that he's making up; and make it actually have a storyline that goes somewhere.


    You didn’t love this book... but did it have any redeeming qualities?

    NO!


    Any additional comments?

    Do not waste a credit on this book. It was NOT what I thought it would be and took me at least a month to finish listening to it. I kept thinking that it would make sense at some point, only it never did.

    3 of 7 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Amy Hatfield 09-08-10 Listener Since 2010
    HELPFUL VOTES
    20
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    165
    8
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    1
    10
    Overall
    "wordy but lacks detail."

    I could not believe that in a book that is this long, you could have such a huge lack of details about the characters. I spent hours with the characters, but I still dont know them from Adam. I can however describe the dress the heroin was wearing in great detail. This writer is a man who is writing about what and how she does what it is she does, but he failed miserably to make her real or intelligent or anything other than a lying,manipulative,sick,sad and very shallow character. All of this would be fine if he was writing from the point of view that she is all of those things, but he does not, he writes a story where she is a heroin, who is understood by him (not me ) and celebrated. I just could not believe that I had been duped into listening till the end. The last two thirds of the book are so.................long and boaring. I thought time and time again "this book will get good soon, it will shock and enthrall me soon" Needless to say, it didn't. I was told of this book by a very good friend who is a 60 year old man. He swooned over it, Said the author really got into the main characters head (Sarah), now Im left wondering if my friend is actually some intellectual who gets this author in a way that is far deeper than I do, or if he is just like the author "DENSE".If you are the type to analize a character and the motives and the sub plot, then stay far away from this read. If you can get caught up in a book without analyzing or thinking about obvious discrepancies, then this might just work for you. I hope this helps

    4 of 10 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Kristi Fort Worth, TX, United States 04-28-12
    Kristi Fort Worth, TX, United States 04-28-12 Member Since 2012
    HELPFUL VOTES
    4
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    38
    8
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
    1
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Not really what I was expecting"

    I chose this when it was on sale, and hadn't seen the movie, but had heard of it, so thought I'd give it a listen. I really didn't enjoy the story...it was complicated, which is OK, but I personally thought it strange that the author inserted himself into the story. And I didn't like the way it ended, which is a personal thing, but ended up feeling disappointed and wishing I had picked a different book. Well, at least now I know...

    1 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    julianne Eagle, CO, United States 12-09-11
    julianne Eagle, CO, United States 12-09-11 Member Since 2010
    HELPFUL VOTES
    19
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    20
    15
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    3
    0
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Painful"
    What could have made this a 4 or 5-star listening experience for you?

    Nothing could help this book


    Would you ever listen to anything by John Fowles again?

    No


    What three words best describe Paul Shelley’s performance?

    very good voice


    What character would you cut from The French Lieutenant's Woman?

    none


    Any additional comments?

    The writing was tedious, unfocused and pompous. The characters were ok, the naration was exceptional but nothing could save this book. I truly despised it. The story could have been told in about three sentences if one eliminated the garbage meandering of the author.

    1 of 5 people found this review helpful

Report Inappropriate Content

If you find this review inappropriate and think it should be removed from our site, let us know. This report will be reviewed by Audible and we will take appropriate action.

Cancel

Thank you.

Your report has been received. It will be reviewed by Audible and we will take appropriate action.