Very Long Engagement Paperback – 6 Jan 2005
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'Diabolically clever The reader is alternately impressed, beguiles, frightened, bewildered A considerable achievement' -- Anita Brookner
Now a major motion picture'Diabolically clever-The reader is alternately impressed, beguiles, frightened, bewildered-A considerable achievement' Anita BrooknerSee all Product Description
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Top Customer Reviews
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.
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.Read more ›
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.Read more ›
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
This is a wonderful book but needs a bit of perseverance to get into.Published 17 months ago by Gabrielle Godwin
Part anti-war statement, part love story, part mystery.
Mathilde Dounay is a capricious bourgeois girl, who falls in love with Jean Etchevery, known as Manech, a fisherman's... Read more
This is a love story that a man can enjoy - because it's not just about love, it's about honour, friendship, war and its effects on men, and one, plucky, tremendous girl who just... Read morePublished on 19 April 2013 by The Amazon J
Sébastien Japrisot, an author, screenwriter and director was was born in Marseille in 1931. "A Very Long Engagement" was first published in France in 1991. Read morePublished on 16 Aug. 2012 by Craobh Rua
I saw the French film recently on my TV it was difficult to read the English subtitles, so I ordered the book from Amazon,
a very good read, well written story, the English... Read more
"A Very Long Engagement, "("Un long dimanche de fiançailles,") (1994), by the best-selling French author Sebastien Japrisot, is a dark, dramatic, emotional and romantic mystery of... Read morePublished on 26 April 2011 by Stephanie De Pue
Such a good book I have read it twice and will more than likely again soon I got it for my English Literature A Levels, but read it even after then. Good value for money too. Read morePublished on 22 April 2010 by Victoria Adams
My latest read from Japrisot, and he does not disappoint. Very detailed clear, engaging story telling, in an area you might think done to death by the politically correct anti-war... Read morePublished on 5 April 2010 by Amazon Customer