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A Very Long Engagement

3.89  ·  Rating Details  ·  4,238 Ratings  ·  395 Reviews
During the First World War five French soldiers, accused of a cowardly attempt to evade duty, are bundled into no-man's land and certain death. Five bodies are later recovered, the families are notified that the men died in the line of duty and the whole, distasteful incident appears closed. After the war the fianc-e of one of the men receives a letter which hints at what ...more
Paperback, 320 pages
Published January 6th 2005 by Vintage (first published 1991)
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Sep 10, 2015 Algernon rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2015

My love,
I’m not able to write today, so a fellow Landis is writing this for me. Your face is all lit up, I can see you. I’m happy, I’m coming home. I would like to shout out my joy on the road, I’m coming home. I would like to kiss you the way you like me to, I’m coming home. I must step lively. Tomorrow is already Sunday, and we’re to be married Monday.

Fragment of a letter sent from the trenches by a teenage soldier to his girlfriend, on a cold morning in January 1917. Jean Etchevery, affecti
Jan 27, 2013 Chrissie rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: france, hf, audible, ww1
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
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... :)
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
Aug 14, 2008 Laura rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: world-war-i, war
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
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
Mar 30, 2011 Lainey rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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
Tempo de Ler
Jun 25, 2012 Tempo de Ler rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

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
Sep 20, 2007 nella rated it it was amazing  ·  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
Apr 07, 2011 Carmel rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
May 09, 2009 Kristen rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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
Nov 01, 2009 Kate rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: library-books
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
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
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
Jan 26, 2016 Eve rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
Japrisot is a genius! A wonderful, wonderful book! At the end, everything just came together and I was so moved! How can someone have such an intense love for another individual? And the details...I felt like I was in the trenches along with the five soldiers. I MUST read this book (physically) in case I missed anything. Too bad a lot of his work has yet to be translated to English.
Jack Miller
Jan 12, 2016 Jack Miller rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I gave this book five stars because I loved reading every part of it. It was so interesting the whole way through, I never lost attention, and I was almost sad every time I had to put it down. The book is based around WWI, and follows the story of a group of condemned men who were court martialed during the war. My favorite scene was a part where the men are first sent into No Mans Land. All of their reactions differ, and I loved to see how each characters personality responded to the situation. ...more
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
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
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
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'
Sep 10, 2008 Jane rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Apr 30, 2009 Linda rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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
Mar 05, 2010 Briynne rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
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
Jan 10, 2016 Raquel rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
“Manech aime Mathilde. Mathilde aime Manech.” Se tivéssemos de resumir este ‘Um Longo Domingo de noivado” em poucas palavras, poderíamos usar apenas estas duas frases. “MMM”. Um amor que resiste à guerra, à dor, à memória, e que se apoia em esperanças que parecem infundadas, mas que encontram fundamento, quanto mais não seja, no fundo do coração. De uma trágica história de guerra, este “longo domingo” transforma-se numa incessante busca por respostas, pela verdade, mesmo que esta venha a ser ain ...more
Feb 07, 2011 Charles rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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
I do not think I will ever understand french literature and war. More than a tribute, more than a testimony, more than a precautionary tale - its turned into glorification and obsession.
If one is to insist upon writing about a topic as exhausted as the world wars, I at least expect that its done in a somewhat original way. In continually using the same expressions, the same approach etc, it only amounts to normalizing and banalizing the horrors that should strike us to the core.
This book did not
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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 about Sébastien Japrisot...

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