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A Very Long Engagement

3.89 of 5 stars 3.89  ·  rating details  ·  3,850 ratings  ·  366 reviews
In January 1917, five wounded French soldiers, their hands bound behind them, are brought to the front at Picardy by their own troops, forced into the no-man's land between the French and German armies, and left to die in the cross fire. Their brutal punishment has been hushed up for more than two years when Mathilde Donnay, unable to walk since childhood, begins a relentl ...more
Paperback, 327 pages
Published September 1st 1994 by Plume (first published 1991)
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All Quiet on the Western Front by Erich Maria RemarqueRegeneration by Pat BarkerGoodbye to All That by Robert GravesA Farewell to Arms by Ernest HemingwayBirdsong by Sebastian Faulks
World War One Literature
14th out of 149 books — 280 voters
The Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel BarberySarah's Key by Tatiana de RosnayChocolat by Joanne HarrisA Very Long Engagement by Sébastien JaprisotThe Paris Wife by Paula McLain
France in Contemporary Fiction
4th out of 161 books — 123 voters


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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Chrissie
Oh my, explaining why I have rated this three stars is complicated, just as complicated as the book is. When it ended, I liked it a lot. Very much in fact, so it should get four stars! Right? Except that if you have been following the comments I have been making about it at diverse places at GR you will have noted that I have been annoyed, exasperated and at wits' end as I read this book! So what is going on?

As I stated, the book is complicated. If you are adept at solving mysteries and love pa
...more
Tea Jovanović
Ovaj francuski roman spada u grupu mojih najomiljenijih "uredničkih" postignuća... Nesvakidašnji, čudnovat, ljudski... ratni roman i sudbine običnih ljudi... I ah, da, ta ljubav... na francuski način :) Sjajna ekranizacija romana, sjajna muzika iz filma... :)
Colleen
I LOVED this book. And I loved the main character, Mathilde, more than just about any character in any book I've ever read. She is strong, sarcastic, always gets what she wants, and has a good sense of humor. Mathilde, despite her sarcasm and pig-headedness seems to inspire devotion in everyone she meets. How could you not admire someone who accomplishes as much as she does despite being in a wheelchair? How can you not admire her devotion to Manech? She would not rest until she got to the botto ...more
Crystal Starr Light
I've been reviewing for over 5 years. In that time, there is only one book that I ever started that I did not finish. Well, now that number is increasing to two.

I won't give a summary as many, many others have given a really detailed summary that is far better than anything I could ever have done justice to. Instead, let me tell you why I stopped at page 113 and why I have no inclination to finish this book.

The first twenty pages are spent introducing five soldiers--their names, their prison num
...more
Laura
Perhaps this is better in the original French? It opens promisingly enough: on a dark January night in 1917, five soldiers are hauled up to the bizarrely named Bingo Crépuscule trench and forced into No Man’s Land as punishment for wounding themselves in order to get out of the war. Ostensibly, by the next day all are killed by German fire. However, a letter sent in 1919 to the fiancée of one of the dead soldiers leads her to believe otherwise. She embarks on a search to trace anyone who might k ...more
Susan
This was a wonderful novel -- with fascinating
characters, a good mystery, plus an interwoven
love story.

I learned a lot about WWI in France, about France
during that time period, and about French geography.

What is remarkable about this novel is the way that
the clues are many tiny snippets of information,
told by different people in different ways. Over
the years, the protagonist gathers these snippets
(often helped by her many assistants) and fits them
together. Reading the book requires careful
...more
Tempo de Ler
{Blog} http://tempodler.blogspot.pt/2012/06/...

Pela forma como foi escrito, levamos muito tempo a entrar na história de Um Longo Domingo de Noivado. Esta dificuldade pode desanimar o leitor que se vê forçado a obrigar-se a ler, de forma a avançar no livro.

A dificuldade em associar os nomes às personagens, especialmente entre os soldados, vem adicionar bastante à confusão e torna-se complicado acompanhar Japrisot. O autor não perde sequer muito tempo a descrever estas personagens, faz um apenas
...more
Lainey
A Very Long Engagement tells the story of Mathilde, a woman who has been told that her fiance, Manech, died in the war. Something seems fishy about his death so she begins to investigate. She wants to know what happened to him, and something keeps telling her that he is still alive somewhere. She soon learns of five soldiers condemned to death for self-mutilation, one of them was Manech. The reader unravels the clues along with Mathilde as she receives more and more information about her fiance' ...more
Carmel
I was unimpressed by this book. The author's writing style was confusing to follow, as he wrote it in present tense and avoided writing conversations using quotations. The plot jumped from one point to another very quickly and with out much notice. There were also too many characters to easily keep track of. The five soldiers each have a name, nickname(s), and number, along with multiple relatives and friends who also have nicknames. It was hard to keep track of all the different relationships a ...more
Kristen
I started this book a long time ago, but couldn't make it past page 8 or 9. It seemed so boring. But several months ago, a friend asked me if it was the same book as the movie, and he said that he had liked the movie. So, I decided to give the movie a try. As luck would have it, our old DVD player kept skipping since the DVD was a bit damaged, so I haven't seen the whole movie yet. But, I was inspired to pick the book up again to figure out what I had missed in the movie. With a bit of perspecti ...more
Kate
For such a small book it seemed to take a while to read.

Another book to remind us that war is not an answer and human resiliance amazing.

Finishing this book is satisfying however it takes a while to get there. You need to be careful to pick up all the clues from various angles, I needed to re read bits to ensure that I had the correct gist of things. The plot and subject are excellent the complexity of the characters well portrayed and I like that the reader is an active participant.

My suspicio
...more
Chrissy
Fantastic. I was utterly unable to put this book down once I started it, even though I'd already seen the movie multiple times and thus knew exactly what to expect. Sébastien Japrisot has a beautiful, poetic style that comes across stunningly in the translation, and characters that practically jump to life on the pages. The story is captivating, a confident blend of mystery, romance, war, drama and comedy that sucks you in from the first sentence and refuses to let your attention go until long a ...more
nella
Sep 20, 2007 nella rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone loking for a quality tearjerker
Shelves: favorites
I read this book during my last life-altering interval, and I sobbed through the last twenty pages . Out and out sobbed. Tears, running nose, inadvertent noises, the whole deal.

It's beautiful. Plain and simple beautiful. Mathilde is such a simply strong character, the sparse dialogue allows the story to move without interruption and to exist in its own space and time, and the predominantly female cast is varied and distinct. What a brilliant man to create such women so inherently unique and real
...more
Robert Ronsson
I came to this book having loved the film and seeking a light read after American Psycho. This turned out to be a challenging intellectual exercise but I enjoyed it nevertheless. Mathilde is an engaging(!) heroine not least because she charms everybody around her into helping her in what appears to be a hopeless quest.
We follow Mathilde into a befuddling maze of description and counter-description of what went on that fateful Sunday at the wonderfully named Bingo Crepuscule. (If you've seen the
...more
Salvatore Leone
Set in 1917, about five soldiers who officially have died in the line of duty but what really happened to them. Partly a mystery and partly a love story but particularly well done when it tells what happened from different points of view.
Thomas Sypkens
A Very Long Engagement is a book about A girl named Mathilde who is trying to find out what happened to her fiance Manech. In the beginning of the book Mathilde hears news that her fiance was given the death sentence along with four other men for self mutilation as a way to get out of the army in World War I. She also hears that a one or two of them might have lived. A new determination comes within her to find her lost fiance. The little hope she has keeps her going on her search.
The problem w
...more
Carly
Mar 29, 2011 Carly added it
Although A Very Long Engagement was interesting and intriguing, it was not one of the best books I have ever read. There was, however, extremely valuable information throughout the book. I learned a ton about trench warfare and the conditions and happenings in these trenches. I feel more educated on the things that went on in the trenches and particularly the relationship between different men in the trenches. I wasn’t previously aware of neither how people stationed in the holes were treated no ...more
Michael
I am conflicted about this book. I couldn't put it down and looked forward to being immersed in post WWI France. The characters were interesting and engaging. The story took many twists and turns that were fun to follow and attempt to stay ahead. For me, the problem was the unanswered questions. As I don't want to place any spoilers in my write up, I will simply say this. I am a product of growing up in the United States, where we like our stories (mostly through television) neatly wrapped up in ...more
Courtney
This book takes on a very dark issue (execution in the military). The book opens with five soldiers trudging through the French trenches towards their death. They had been condemned to die because each of them either shot themselves in the hand or made themselves and obvious target for the Germans by raising their hands up for snipers (think Thomas in that episode of Downton Abbey).

We have The Eskimo, a carpenter who has traveled the world. Six Sous an angry trade unionist who loves the Tour D'
...more
Jane
Sep 10, 2008 Jane rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommended to Jane by: Elisabeth
From the Publisher:

January 1917: five French soldiers are marched to their own front lines where they will be tossed out into no man's land with their hands tied behind their backs and left for the Germans to shoot. They were, in civilian life, variously a pimp, a mechanic, a farmer, a carpenter, and a fisherman; now they are condemned because each had sought to leave the war by shooting himself in the hand. Taken to a godforsaken trench nicknamed Bingo Crépuscule, the five are reluctantly sent
...more
Linda
This was one of the best books I have read in a very long time: I would have given it another 1/2 star if I could. It surprised me to see how many people have reviewed this book saying 'it was boring' or 'I couldn't get into it.' This was, to me, a fascinating look at love and devotion, hope and acceptance plus a wonderful introduction to characters who seemed very real, even if they only played a minor part in the story.

Mathilde, a young French woman who was crippled at age 3 after a minor acci
...more
Cindy
Themes: war, love, hope
Setting: WWI and post war France

Five soldiers were convicted of cowardice after shooting themselves in the hand. They are tied up and forced into enemy territory. Later the fiancee of one of the men receives a letter than convinces her to go looking for the truth behind their deaths and she will not stop until she finds out everything.

It is an intriguing idea, but I didn't really like the main character, Mathilde, and I never understood why she had this compulsion to keep
...more
Briynne
This was so very lovely. It's earned a place on my mental "best books to recommend to acquaintances who ask me what they should read because they know I'm a librarian" list.

The book is simultaneously an effortless historical novel set in WWI-era France, an intricate mystery, and a sincere and deeply-felt love story. I was so hooked on this book that when I accidentally left it my office desk drawer two nights ago, I felt positively forlorn and moped around the house all evening, such had been m
...more
Karina Hernandez
A Very Long Engagement by Sebastien Japrisot was a book that really went into the depth of what people will do for love. The story was about a women named Mathilde who was told that her fiancé Manech, was killed during WW1 after he shot his hand in an effort to be sent back home. Mathilde, who believes the man she loves is still alive, goes on an investigation to find out exactly what took place while he was at war. I personally didn’t like the book very much because I couldn’t relate to it. Al ...more
Charles
This book is a detective story, a story of the horrors and inhumanity of war, a love story -- or stories. The premise is complex and horrific.

But... there are a lot of characters. OK, too many characters. And probably too many words. Some of the characterizations are palpable, but most are not. I would have preferred knowing half as many people twice as well. Even the basis of the relentless persuit of Matilde is somewhat obscure. Oh well, that's the way love is, I guess.

I don't know that this b
...more
Jacki Combs
There are many aspects of this book, some that I like some that I don't. At first, I was really excited to read it because it was good reviews and the summary on the back of the book was intriguing. I read the first ten pages before I chose it, and I was still interested. But- when I continued reading it, I found I hated the grammar. It may have been proper and right but it distracted me from the actual book. The sentences were often unclear and wordy and took away from the actual story, which w ...more
Yofish
This is sort of an historical mystery. There were a *lot* of characters to keep track of; I couldn't quite do it, even though we saw the movie first. (The movie had lots of differences, but kept the main feeling well.) But well-written, interesting, consistent (that is, not much deus ex machina, though people's memories were awfully good). A real page-turner. Woman loses her fiance in WW I, but refuses to believe that he's really dead. Spends the novel trying to figure out what "really" happened ...more
Tracey
Can't believe I actually finsihed this book. Several times I wanted to give up but I kept thinking/hoping it was going to get better. The plot itself was interesting and had potential. In a nutshell this book is about France and post WWI and young woman looking for her fiance who is delcared MIA. Some of the little stories and flashbacks were interesting but this book was long and boring at times. Also the characters were confusing. I give it two stars for not being terrible but could have been ...more
Joe Toledo
Reconozco que llegué hasta este libro porque he visto en más de una ocasión la película dirigida por Jean-Pierre Jeunet, que me encanta... ya sé la referencia a su vez era la actriz de Amélie, lo admito

De otra forma, tal vez nunca me hubiese interesado, ya que en las librerías a menudo se la coloca en las estanterías dedicadas a "Literatura Romántica" o en puritito francés y el libro Un long dimanche de fiançailles en mi vida lo hubiera identificado.

La historia que cuenta Largo domingo de noviaz
...more
Ian Wood
This is the complete review as it appears at my blog dedicated to reading, writing (no 'rithmatic!), movies, & TV. Blog reviews often contain links which are not reproduced here, nor will updates or modifications to the blog review be replicated here. Graphic and children's novels reviewed on the blog will generally have some images from the book's interior, which are not reproduced here.

Note that I don't really do stars. To me a novel is either worth reading or it isn't. I can't rate a nove
...more
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Sébastien Japrisot was a French author, screenwriter and film director, born in Marseille. His pseudonym was an anagram of Jean-Baptiste Rossi, his real name. Japrisot has been nicknamed "the Graham Greene of France".
Famous in the Francophony, he was little known in the English-speaking world, though a number of his novels have been translated into English and have been made into films.
His first n
...more
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