Les Fiancailles de M.Hire
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Les Fiancailles de M.Hire

3.83 of 5 stars 3.83  ·  rating details  ·  336 ratings  ·  45 reviews
On the outskirts of Paris, a prostitute is found murdered in a vacant lot. In a seedy apartment house nearby lives pasty, fat Mr. Hire. Mr. Hire, who earns his living through a petty postal scam, is a convicted pornographer, a peeping Tom, and, once a week, the unlikely star of a Parisian bowling club, where people think he works for the police. He is a faceless man of reg...more
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Published June 1st 2007 by Livre de Poche (first published 1933)
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Paige
Simenon really is an amazing writer, and I still can't get over the fact that I've never read him until discovering Dirty Snow a short time ago. The Engagement is described as a psychological novel, but that's a bit misleading. Simenon doesn't dissect his characters or try to explain their motivations. They just are... with all their quirks and ugliness.

Oh! The descriptions of street noises and weather and so-called background are fantastic. No wonder Andrew Gide sang Simenon's praises. My goal...more
Baseni
"Anfang der 1930er Jahre in einem Vorort von Paris, Monsieur Hire, Mieter einer Ein-Zimmer-Wohnung, klein, dick und ohne Haare, lebt nach strengen Regeln. Sein einziges Vergnügen ist das abendliche Beobachten des Dienstmädchens aus dem Milchgeschäft. Sie hat ihr Zimmer gegenüber, und ist sich der Spannerbetätigung durchaus bewußt. Wäre nicht vor kurzem eine Frau auf einem unbebauten Grundstück in der Nähe ermordet worden, niemand würde von Monsieur Hire Notiz nehmen. So interessiert sich nicht n...more
Susan Abraham
Superb perspective drawn on the hasty reaction of a general working class society, especially those who live out a routine existence and stay ready to embrace suspicion, gossip and slander at the earliest opportunity. The tearing down of reputations may be seen as an exciting thing when boredom stays the necessary alternative. This, placed upon another who may be like themselves.

Atmospheric in narration. I personally, love everyday characters sketched out from small fictitious streets, shops and...more
Annie
A fantastic read that really makes you think. I may be one of the only people that adores Mr Hire, but I felt protective over him throughout the book. Simenon exposes the characters for what they really are, and shows you the unfortunate side of human nature. I highly recommend it and as it is a short book, a definite quick read.

Mark Van Aken Williams
This is one Simenon’s more compelling psychological novels (1933). In it we follow Mr. Hire, a solitary man with a dubious past, who is framed for a murder he did not commit. Mr. Hire’s bleak existence is seen only through the author’s juxtaposition of character, which slowly emerges, against the settings in which he navigates his daily routine (his commute, his business, and his various other habits). He is illusive and remains isolated as this trap conspires around him, and a constantly height...more
Chris Shaffer
Dec 01, 2007 Chris Shaffer rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: fans of camus, sarte, weird french people
Shelves: nyrb, crime
One of Simenon's only "psychological" novels, this was a rather gripping tale of a lonely man that is targeted as a the killer in a recent murder. Keeps you guessing until the end...

The interesting thing about his non-detective novels is that they have no fixed sense of right and wrong, there doesn't seem to be "justice" as we see it in conventional mystery novels. Like Paul Auster's New York Trilogy, the ending ends up raising more questions than answering them. It's fun to be so let down by yo...more
Edward
One of Simenon's best in the genre of romans dur. It is a sad tale of prejudice, anti-semitism and xenophobia resulting in the death of an innocent man. Mr. Hre is a sympathetic character. His past as a petty criminal is held against him as well as his Jewish origins. He has the misfortune to fall in love with a prostitute who leads him on and ultimately places the evidence that damns him in his apartment. He is a strange isolated man. Suspicion falls upon him simply because he is different.
Rpmcestmoi
A brilliant film was made from this book. I like Simenon's novels, not a fan of his policiers. This short novel was not well written, I thought. The notions are fine and finally we get the underlying social problem of incipient anti-semitism revealed (the film did not include that) but the language, in English, was not pleasing. If I live long enough I will read the original and know more.
Stephen P
a compelling page turner completely shorn of metaphoric, allegoric,symbolic, elegant language-i could go on but what's the point. this was the movement of action and behavior. however, simenon's magic is that the characters actions created such a dense atmosphere of isolation, disenchantment and indifference that it has surprisingly held onto me days later and won't let go.
Adam Moss
The fascinating tale of the tragic Mr Hire.

Despite his failings you really can't help but feel sorry for this anti-hero.

Simenon uses the protagonist as a foolproof device to expose the seedy underbelly of Parisian life and morals in the 1930s.

It was a time when whispers became screams and racism, the easily spun web of local gossip and the theory that France is a country built on the premise of laissez faire are all investigated and savagely dissected here.

And underneath it all, a tale of murder...more
Matt
An excellent example of Simenon's romans durs. I also liked that NYRB had an afterword, rather than a forward. The discussion of the novel in the afterword was far more interesting having already read the story being discussed.
Colin N.
"The Engagement," one of Simenon's romans durs, or psychological novels, tells the sad tale of Mr. Hire, a chubby, quiet, introverted man who lives a simple life. He operates his business selling postcard painting sets, goes to dinner alone in the same restaurant everyday, and bowls once a week at a bowling club (although he does not socialize much with anyone). When a prostitute is murdered nearby, his landlord, neighbors, and the police are quick to finger him as a suspect as he is unattractiv...more
Brian Carless
There is something so distinctive and so, well, Simenon about the work of Georges Simenon. His non-Maigret stories can be particularly bleak and this is no exception. Simenon's novel takes place in a world of working class people and petty crime. Mr. Hire is bland, overweight and himself a petty criminal blithly and readily leads himself into being framed for a murder commited by the boyfriend of the much younger neighbor he is infatuated with. Does he do this willingly, does he care? We don't r...more
Arwen56
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Alisea
Villejuif è l'estrema periferia di Parigi: oltre, non c'è che la campagna bianca di brina. È qui che la polizia ha rinvenuto il cadavere di una prostituta. Solo un mostro può avere commesso un simile delitto. E chi altri può essere, il Mostro, se non il signor Hire, che tutti scansano con un brivido? Il signor Hire è piccolo, grasso, come se non fosse fatto né di carne né di ossa. Sul suo viso cereo spiccano baffetti che sembrano disegnati con la china. Tutti i suoi gesti hanno la rigida precisi...more
Nick Tramdack
Amazing noir... here's how it happens...

-9: Spare descriptive technique: "The boulevards were emptier than usual. People were huddled in small groups around the braziers. The asphalt was white from the frost."
-11: [how exact: "It was warm, but their feet were frozen."
-25: "He went past the port d'Italie and the city tollgates, preceded by the small gray cloud of his breath."
-48: "The act of reasoning had made her seem more intelligent than usual."
-70: overwhelmingly noir paragraph: "He stop...more
Geoff
I read this in its entirety in one stretch this morning sitting in a depressing, fluorescent-lit room of Beckettian absurdity. I mean I was performing my civic duty by serving in a jury pool. Anyway, the day before I was at Vertigo and picked it up for 4 bucks from their sale rack, thinking those long hours of purgatory would be all the more easily passed with some fine, gritty Paris noir, no doubt some lithe sex and murder too and maybe a few bons mots.

I didn't expect Simenon to be such a gripp...more
Lawrence FitzGerald
A noir, a roman dur; not a psychological novel.

Simenon examines the case of Mr. Hire with an unsentimental eye. A hard look at a pathetic man. Thus, a roman dur, a hard novel. No examination of inner life, just the hard facts. From these the reader can infer fears and motivations.

Good descriptions of the characters; good physical descriptions, good descriptions of their actions, their speech. In short, good characterization.

Wonderful descriptions of 1930's Paris, the anonymous crowds, the seedy...more
Jonis Davis
First I saw the movie, Patrice Leconte's M. Hire. It made we want to read the book it was based on, which turned out to be George Simenon's Les Fiancailles de M. Hire, translated as The Engagement. Short but intense and compelling. The first half is presents M. Hire's daily life in his Paris apartment. we see him take the tram and the Metro to his workplace, a basement room where he works alone. The second part puts his present in the context of his past. He's suspected of a murder because he's...more
Gail
'Apart from the immobility of his head, which he wore on his shoulders like a foreign object, he was the same man who had been on the tram, in the Métro, and in the basement on the rue Saint-Maur: calm and measured in all his gestures, which seemed as prescribed as a ceremonial rite.'
Ffiamma
per me alcuni autori sono una certezza; quando sono indecisa su cosa leggere e ho voglia di un libro *sicuro*, basta che mi dedichi a loro. simenon è uno di questi: nei suoi romanzi ci sono sempre atmosfere (soffocanti) descritte alla perfezione. si viene catapultati in luoghi spesso squallidi che sono contorno perfetto a vite mediocri e di una tristezza desolante. il signor hire è brutto, solitario e conduce un'esistenza monotona e ritirata, forse ai limiti della legalità. è il colpevole perfet...more
Andrew
Poor Monsier Hire is thought to be a killer, but really he is just an active peeping tom. The girl of his interest allows him to put his knees in her back at a soccer match (she is attending with her boyfriend, who is the real killer) and this is something. but ... finally she betrays him and he has an unpleasant end. Super, super.
Rise
Simenon is notorious for having penned a very large number of novels. This is one of those (romans durs) that concerns, in a way, man's precarious place in the world. It's a high-strung detective story that reads like a manifesto for something, perhaps modern man's futile search for happiness and understanding.

This is the first book of the French novelist I've read and it looks like his prolific outputs in novel writing was more than repaid by his large imagination. This is also the first book...more
Charles
Very unusual style of writing. Existential. All sentences are simple declarative sentences in the present tense. Not more that three or four sentences in the book that mention how a character is feeling, only what they are doing. Plot is advanced in an unusual manner also; important things happen, but we only find out when someone mentions them after the fact. I really loved the atmosphere this writing style developed. I was disappointed with the ending because it seemed rather cliche, but, upon...more
Maria Amuchastegui
I decided to read some Georges Simenon, the Agatha Christie of the French-speaking world, to prepare for an upcoming trip to Belgium. His psychological novel The Engagement feels more like Kafka than a traditional whodunnit. The flawed but likable main character, Monsieur Hire, is bewildered to find himself under surveillance for a crime he did not commit. As the action progresses, the central question becomes not "who killed the girl whose body was found in an empty lot" but "will Monsieur Hire...more
Brent
As my entry point for Georges Simenon, I chose a book whose film adaptation I am already an admirer of — Patrice Leconte's 1989 film Monsieur Hire — and found the book to be the inferior of the two. The book is still gripping in its own way but somewhat lacking the narrative focus and force of the film, which plays more compellingly as a noir than the rather straightforward character study Simenon presents here. I'll look forward now to some of Simenon's work that I can approach with fresh eyes.
Todd
Stark, behavioristic crime fiction. Nihilistic without despair, Simenon cast his steady, clinically detached gaze at the suffering of the dispossessed.
Ángel
Aug 26, 2013 Ángel rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Ángel by: Alejandro Archundia
Simenon sin Maigret. Así fue mi primera incursión en el mundo del escritor belga. Terminé un poco decepcionado por su ritmo lento y cansino, y por la excesiva descripción. Sin embargo, Vila Matas la recomienda. La dejaré madurar.

Reseñas:

De Enrique Vila-Matas: http://www.enriquevilamatas.com/texto...

Sobre la película de Patrice Leconte: http://extracine.com/2009/10/monsieur...
Martin Spellman
This is one of Simenon's 'romans durs' or psychological novels. It is like Oliver Twist with Bill Sikes role reversed: an innocent man is chased up onto a roof and offered a rope, whilst the real murderer of a prostitute looks on. He does not fall but hangs on and dies of the strain afterward.
Jc
A different kind of Simenon novel. Though on one level a mystery, this is NOT a Maigret story. Instead, it is more a psychological thriller reminiscent of works like "M" with maybe a touch of Kafka. A bleak, dark view of humanity. Maigret would not like these policmen.
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NYRB Classics: The Engagement, by Georges Simenon 1 3 Oct 22, 2013 09:18PM  
  • No Tomorrow
  • Count d'Orgel's Ball
  • Wish Her Safe at Home
  • Mouchette
  • The Pilgrim Hawk
  • The Expendable Man
  • Proud Beggars
  • Sunflower
  • Mr. Fortune's Maggot
  • Irretrievable
  • Great Granny Webster
  • The Child
  • Varieties of Exile
  • A Meaningful Life
  • The Outward Room
  • My Fantoms
  • The Life of Henry Brulard
  • The Old Man and Me
9693
Simenon was one of the most prolific writers of the twentieth century, capable of writing 60 to 80 pages per day. His oeuvre includes nearly 200 novels, over 150 novellas, several autobiographical works, numerous articles, and scores of pulp novels written under more than two dozen pseudonyms. Altogether, about 550 million copies of his works have been printed.

He is best known, however, for his 75...more
More about Georges Simenon...
The Man Who Watched Trains Go By Dirty Snow The Yellow Dog Maigret and the Enigmatic Lett The Strangers in the House

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