My assumption was that The French Lieutenant's Woman would be a rather somber, perhaps even depressing novel. I figured it would be a tale of two lovers (a French Lieutenant and a woman were my guesses as to who the characters would be), who for whatever reasons would be kept apart, perhaps by war, perhaps by cultural norms of the day.
I base all of this on the title of course. And the fact the title uses a flowery font, the type one would expect to find sharing a cover with Fabio. At around 450 pages, I headed into this book with a tinge of fear, and a lot of apprehensions.
As I've read 66 books from this list and have been pleasantly surprised by more than a few, I shouldn't be going into books with any kind of expectation anymore. But I fear it is in my nature to do so, in human nature even. Happily, The French Lieutenant's Woman is turning out to be another surprise through the first 120 pages.
While it may actually turn out to be about what I had predicted, lovers kept apart for one reason or another, it is turning out to be quite upbeat, even funny at times. Long story short, it is quite a pleasant read so far.
One interesting thing about the book, is Fowles' use of an omnipotent first person narrator, writing in the 1960's (the book was written in 1969), about events in 1867. Not only is the narrator telling the story, but at times begins a conversation with the reader, explaining certain story elements or character traits by comparing them to contemporary (1960's) people or events.
But the breaking of the fourth wall is even taken a step further, as seen in Chapter 13, where the narrator talks of how an author is usually next to God, having total control of his characters. This narrator fears he as lost control of his protagonist though, explaining how in the previous chapter he had given instructions to return home, but instead there was a visit to a local park, in search of a woman. He fears his character may have become self aware. If he has, I hope it is with less dire consequences than when SkyNet did the same.