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Very Long Engagement Paperback – 6 Jan 2005

4.4 out of 5 stars 26 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage; Film Tie-In edition (6 Jan. 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0099474549
  • ISBN-13: 978-0099474548
  • Product Dimensions: 11 x 2.1 x 17.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (26 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 703,205 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

'Diabolically clever… The reader is alternately impressed, beguiles, frightened, bewildered… A considerable achievement' -- Anita Brookner

Book Description

Now a major motion picture'Diabolically clever-The reader is alternately impressed, beguiles, frightened, bewildered-A considerable achievement' Anita Brookner

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4.4 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
Having read the book and seen the film, I can see how the detective story connection to previous novels by Sebastien Japrisot is made. This one is light years away from the others though in both style and subject matter. I would endorse everything I've read in other reviews about the way the story deals with such powerful issues as war, loss, betrayal, and redemption while at the same time charting an epic love story without the slightest hint of sentimentality. The film is a flawless adaptation of the book.
I think we sometimes underestimate the devastating impact of the Great War on the whole French nation for decades afterwards. We point to the Second World War and their so-called surrender, without understanding how the loss of almost a whole generation of young men only some 20 years or so before could still weigh so heavily on them. This book explores these themes in an accessible way through the medium of a love story.
I would also strongly recommend "Fields of Glory" by Jean Rouaud for a similar powerful evocation of this period in history. It may be getting on for a hundred years ago now, but we still see these same horrors of war in the 21st century.
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Format: Paperback
War is not glorious. Especially if you're Manech, a 20-year old French soldier convicted by a military court, along with four others, of committing self-mutilation with the intent of escaping service in the front lines of World War I. The punishment is grotesque. Rather than death by a firing squad, the five are to be thrust, hands bound, over the wire fronting the most forward trench and into the No Man's Land between the French and German positions - there to die by whatever bullet, mortar shell, or bomb strikes them down. The subsequent deaths of all five are attested to. Letters are sent to surviving family members by the French authorities saying their boys "died in battle". This was in 1917.
Mathilde was Manech's fiancée when he marched off to battle. She's also confined to a wheelchair, unable to walk since she fell off a stepladder at age 3. In 1919, she's contacted by a dying survivor of the war, ex-Sergeant Esperanza, who'd been in charge of the provost detail assigned to escort the five condemned men to the front trench, as well as act as censor for the last letter each was permitted to write home. He tells Mathilde of their bizarre fate, and gives her copies of their last letters, transcribed by him personally. Using these copies and the veteran's story to provide clues, Mathilde embarks on a multi-year search for the truth behind Manech's death. Interviewing friends, family members, and lovers of Marech's four condemned companions, as well as other soldiers present in the trench, Mathilde needs to answer the question, "Is he truly dead?" She has doubts. The evidence is inconsistent.
A VERY LONG ENGAGEMENT is an odyssey of mystery, official cover-ups, lies, misperceptions, secrets, coincidence, tenuous clues, guilt, innocence, and honor. And, ultimately, love.
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By E. A Solinas HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWER on 28 Dec. 2005
Format: Paperback
What would you do, and how far would you go, to bring back the love of your life? That question is at the heart of Sebastien Japrisot's "A Very Long Engagement," a quiet little story about love and war. While the story drags a little at times, the exquisite story of Matti and the love for a man whom she won't believe is dead.

Wheelchair-bound Mathilde grew up with Manech, and as teenagers they fell in love and became engaged. But Manech is killed in action, leaving Matti to dwell on her imaginary adventures. But one day she is contacted by a dying veteran, Daniel Esperanza, who tells her a terrible story -- Manech was one of five men who shot themselves in the hand to avoid fighting. Because of that, they were condemned to death: sent to the front lines with their hands bound.

But Matti doesn't accept it -- she believes that there is chance, even a small one, that Manech survived somehow. She has her friends assist her in searching through mounds of paperwork, and she herself writes to anyone who might be able to help her -- ex-officers, widows, and lovers. And slowly Matti begins to piece together what happened that day -- and why Manech might still be alive.

"A Very Long Engagement" is complex and a bit confusing, but it's also worth the effort. Japrisot takes a simple plot and gives it some extra twists, a few lessons about war and misery -- but at its heart, "Engagement" is just about love and determination. It's difficult not to be stirred by Matti's long quest to find her lover.

Japrisot's complex paper trail is a bit hard to follow, and the novel tends to drag in the middle, which is mostly Matti reading and writing letters. Japrisot seems uncertain where to go at that point.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The third Sebastien Japrisot novel I have read and yet again I was highly impressed with the late author's compelling ability to weave a fascinating tale. This was a constantly intriguing story of the First World War told from a fresh prospective. A book very worthy of a place amongst World War One literature.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is a stunning book - I could hardly put it down! Well well worth a read. A very current topic which the author has treated well both in a modern and yet sympathetic to the times way.

I am looking for more of his books!
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