John Fowles

As far as I can be said to have a favourite author, it would be John Fowles. He is a tremendously gifted story teller with a literary writing style unfortunately often construed as verbose and overly complex. I personally hugely enjoy his style, the intellectual atmosphere, his sense of literary experimentation, and especially his analysis of perspective: the world looks very differently, depending through whose eyes you view it!

Despite how much I value his books, I would not recommend his work to people simply looking for a casual read. However, those ready for a literary challenge, and who do not mind being swept of their feet into a world where 'a matter of perspective' and truths, half-truths, lies and half-lies rule the game, those people are cordially invited to come along!


Below are one-paragraph reviews of the novels I've read by John Fowles. I first read The Magus, on recommendation of my English teacher, and I have read the other books in order of listing.

The Magus
The Magus is like a multi-layered maze. You are left wandering around for the way out, and the moment you think you're on the right track, and get ready for a final burst, suddenly a trapdoor opens and you fall deeper into a new riddle, where you have to start all over again. You are made to realize there is no way out. There is no outside of the maze, there will always be a trapdoor waiting for you around the corner, waiting to take you a level deeper. The book leaves you sitting bewildered, still waiting, expecting to see a new trapdoor open. There is no point to all the riddles, all the searching and truths and half-truths. No point, but to take you to the next level; there is no truth beyond magic.
The Collector
The Collector is scary. You are drawn into a web and the more you see the protagonist struggle to get out, the more the web closes tight and chokes her. You feel drained when the story progresses, you gasp for air, but you can't stop reading, although you are dreading what happens next. The tale provides a glimpse into a disturbed mind, almost blissfully ignorant of reality and a glimpse into a terror-torn mind, counting her days against better knowledge. Scary!
The French Lieutenant's Woman
In this Victorian novel with a 20th century perspective and an omnipotent narrator, the contradiction between truth and fiction once again dominate. What is actually happened and what is actually happening now? The anachronistic storyline, with so many 20th century ideas such as feminism, freedom, and existentialism, providing a lot of food for thought, is secondary to the main appeal of the book: the narrative innovations. The different endings, the omnipotent author, who even shows up in the story itself, pondering the turn of events, add even more depth to this already great story.
Daniel Martin
Daniel Martin is a tricky one. I couldn't put it down, even though large sections were just plain boring - especially the travel scenes in Africa. Still, the character sketch was so tremendously well done, it was as if I met a new person and learned a lot about him. It just all feels so true, so real. The man comes alive for me, with all his flaws and faults. The strongly non-linear narrative also worked fine for me, but this book also shows Fowles' major flaw I also saw in A Maggot: a tremendous start, with tremendous potential, but with a weak ending. Good yarn spun too long. It just feels overstretched, too much ado about nothing.
A Maggot
That applies most strongly to 'A Maggot'. The start is tantalizing, you are left in the dark with no clue whatsoever as to the meaning of these strange events. Then the brilliant stuff starts, with the letters and the interrogations, which gives various angles on the events, yielding a reality like a hologram: different from every angle, yet seemingly one truth. What the truth is, we never find out. What we get is a disappointing rambling about religion, devils, aliens, visions which seem to serve no point and make for a rather disappointing read and were it not for the narrative skills of the author, I would long have let the book be.