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The Rules of Engagement

3.42  ·  Rating details ·  144 ratings  ·  15 reviews
A gripping novel of love and war, risk and responsibility

Arcadia Hearne is a war researcher, specializing in military intervention. But her immersion in contemporary war is offset by her refusal to put herself at risk, and by her insistence on keeping her past at bay.

Ten years earlier, in the mid-1980s, Arcadia had fled Toronto for London after two university
Hardcover, 272 pages
Published August 2nd 2000 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux
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Average rating 3.42  · 
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 ·  144 ratings  ·  15 reviews

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Apr 30, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, canlit
In its simplest form, Arcadia Hearne has run away from home and past events and relationships and settled in London where she works for the Center for the Contemporary War Studies, studying war and intervention. Catherine Bush spins this story in such a manner that it's very difficult to put the book down. She interweaves present events with Arcadia's past in Toronto, slowly winding these two stories together to provide a clear picture of Arcadia and the reasons for her running off to London. ...more
Jasmine Steffler
Oct 20, 2018 rated it really liked it
This novel might be difficult to relate to for most, at least for those of us who havent had two people literally fight over us. But, if you can get past the normalized treatment of the main event that the novel hinges on, youll find that Catherine Bush offers a fresh take on redemption and conflict. The main character is an academic who studies war, as if irreversibly attracted to uncovering the reasons behind the savagery in her own life.

The story is easy to follow and the author illuminates
Jean Wilson
I liked the book overall and I appreciated what the author was trying to achieve and how she went about it, but I think she was only partially successful. She writes extremely well, with considerable wit and an edgy style. Although the subject matter may be heavy, the book is very readable and entertaining. It is an intelligent book that examines difficult and important questions about the nature of war and human conflict, as well as introducing a number of human dilemmas. I thought that most of ...more
Feb 16, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The rules of engagement can apply to armed conflict or to affairs of the heart. Both these apply in this novel. Arcadia Hearne is a researcher and writer on war and lives in London, while her family still live in Toronto where she was born. Arcadia has had lovers, and even been married for a short while. Her life seems uneventful, until her sister, Lux, arrives and persuades her to deliver a package of money to a refugee from Somalia. While doing so, Arcadia meets Amir and begins a relationship ...more
Paul Lima
Oct 03, 2016 rated it liked it
This book has a strong female lead and is exceptionally well written. I had a few problems with how it develops, but overall it's a solid read. The main character, Arcadia Hearne, is a war researcher, specializing in military intervention. But her immersion in contemporary war is offset by her refusal to put herself at risk, and by her insistence on keeping her past at bay. However, she plunges into the past, and this is where I had some issues. We seem to leave a perfectly interesting present ...more
Oct 07, 2008 rated it really liked it
A complex, well-paced and thoughtful book about conflict: on a personal/romantic level as well as tribal and national levels. It touches on global hot spots, but applies the same analysis and reason to "agents of intervention" and "humanitarian aid" for personal relationships. In either case, we're forced to make choices about getting involved, which carries risk, or observing, which has its own price. Bush's writing is spot-on. the novel moves from now to then clearly, and the characters are ...more
Tim Grace
Jul 27, 2011 rated it liked it
Found it an interesting read but it did not grab me. Some interesting thoughts on war / conflict and what motivates people to act.
Oct 30, 2010 rated it liked it
Interesting topic, well-written. Listened to while running-good audio book.
Jun 25, 2013 rated it it was ok
It was a long read... I found it rather boring at times and not very exciting, however I enjoyed the story
Aug 09, 2011 rated it did not like it
Found the story souless so didn't do a lot for me.
Dec 09, 2008 marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: canadian-author
I thought I had read this, but I picked it up the other day. (Along with Claire's Head)
Sep 08, 2012 rated it liked it
An intriguing novel - a very subtle psychological thriller.
Candice Pitman
Disappointing main character. Failed righteousness. She annoyed me pretty much the whole time.
Sep 05, 2013 rated it it was ok
The premise of the book seemed weak to me. I felt the reason for fleeing her family did not justify the length and breadth of distance.
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Catherine Bush was born and raised in Toronto, the daughter of a physician and a museum volunteer, and lived there until the age of 18, when she moved to the US to study at Yale University. At Yale, she completed a degree in Comparative Literature, including an undergraduate thesis on Amazons in 16th century literature. For five years in the mid-1980s, she wrote about dance and performance, ...more

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