The Book : The French Lieutenant’s Woman by John Fowles
An easterly is the most disagreeable wind in Lyme Bay–Lyme Bay being that largest bite from the underside of England’s outstretched southwestern leg–and a person of curiosity could at once have deduced several strong possibilities about the pair who began to walk down the quay at Lyme Regis, the small but ancient eponym of the inbite, one incisively sharp and blustery morning in the late March of 1867.
For the longest time ever, I have had this strange misconception about the book, of it being something of an entirely different nature to what it actually was. And as a result of this, I never had the interest or intention to read the book at all. That is until two years ago, a friend insisted that I watch the 1981 adaptation (brilliantly portrayed by the sublime Meryl Streep and Jeremy Irons), in order to put an end to my misconceptions. And I am glad I did. For not only did I enjoy the film adaptation immensely, but it had also renewed my interest in the book, and in the writer.
“It is all too easy to be transported into the world so vividly created for us by John Fowles, as he details the love affair between Charles Smithson and Sarah Woodruff, whilst simultaneously exposing the hypocracies of Victorian England. Haunted night and day by the face of ‘The French Lieutenant’s Woman’ (Sarah Woodruff) Charles Smithson struggles to forget her and concede to a life with the entirely more conventional Ernestina Freeman. Theirs is the expected and typical Victorian pairing, but as the action progresses, Charles finds his initial curiosity towards the enigmatic Sarah developing into attraction and eventual desire. In his novel, Fowles powerfully depicts Charles’s inner conflict between head and heart, painfully illustrating the consequences of allowing the heart to overrule in such a repressed, hypocritical society.”
The Place : Lyme Regis, Dorset – England
Lyme Regis, often called the Pearl of Dorset, is a sleepy fishing village situated on the border between West Dorset and East Devon, right in the middle of the Jurassic Coast. This is the back-drop upon which the story of The French Lieutenant’s Woman is told.
The Time : Summer of 2010
I had the wonderful opportunity of travelling to the UK with two other tavelling companions during the summer of 2010. Our journey saw us driving all the way from Dumfries (south west of Scotland) right up to Lands End which is the most westerly point in Cornwall (south west of England).
Since one of my travelling companions was the same one who made me watch the film adaptation of The French Lieutenant’s Woman, and so happened our travel route would see us passing by Lyme Regis, of course we couldn’t miss out on the golden opportunity to stop and savour the atmospheric setting for both the book and film. We didn’t have time to explore much as we were rushing to make it to our next pitstop, Torquay (home to dame Agatha Christie), where we were to put up a night. However, despite what little time we had strolling the Cobb and being accompanied by light drizzle together with the “most disagreeable easterly wind” blowing at us , Lyme Regis still managed to have left an indelible impression upon us. Enough to make us want to return to it again, someday. If for nothing else, at least there is the Herbies cheese burger that surprisingly turned out to be one of the best we ever had, to go back for! 😉
Throughout the trip, we also made the following stopovers :
And of the books that were related in one way or another to these places (ie: bought from, set in, read about, listened to….) I’ll leave that to another post, another day, another time. 😉
‘A Book… A Place… A Time….’ is (hopefully) going to be a recurring feature in this blog. In it, I hope to be able to relate books I’ve either read or planning to read, listened to, or watched an adaption of, to the places I’ve travelled to in the past, or hope to travel to in the future. Hope this idea will somehow translate well onto the blog. 🙂