68 pages 2 hours read

John Fowles

The French Lieutenant's Woman

Fiction | Novel | Adult | Published in 1969

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Chapters 1-12

Chapter Summaries & Analyses

Chapter 1 Summary

The novel begins in the southwest English town of Lyme Regis in March 1867. On a windy morning, a couple walks along the seafront quay known as the Cobb. The Cobb splits opinions among the locals. Though they disagree on its aesthetic qualities, few argue about its historical importance. At one end of the Cobb, several houses are situated beside a boat yard. The center of the town is located half a mile away. Looking away from the town, large windswept cliffs tower over the country vista. The couple walking along the Cobb do not seem to be locals. They seem to want privacy. Dressed in expensive clothes which are the “height of fashion” (4), they seem too chic for the quaint town of Lyme Regis. At the other end of the Cobb, a figure dressed in black stares out across the water like “a living memorial to the drowned” (5).

Chapter 2 Summary

The couple on the Cobb is Charles Smithson and Ernestina Freeman. Though Charles suggests that they leave, Ernestina wishes that he would hold her arm now that they are alone. She encourages Charles to continue walking to the end of the Cobb. She mentions a letter, received from her mother, which refers to a meeting between Charles and her father.

Related Titles

By John Fowles