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The Engagement

2.82  ·  Rating details ·  1,153 ratings  ·  253 reviews
Liese Campbell is working as an estate agent in Melbourne when she first meets Alexander Colquhoun. The handsome scion of a prominent farming family, he is searching for a pied-a-terre in the city. At another disappointing viewing, Liese leads Alexander to the bedroom, and they sleep together. Afterwards, he pulls out a roll of cash, and she takes three hundred dollars. ...more
Published 2012 by Penguin
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Average rating 2.82  · 
Rating details
 ·  1,153 ratings  ·  253 reviews

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I swallowed The Engagement whole, in one gulp: altogether it can't have taken me more than two hours to read this book. Although I probably over-use the word 'compelling', it's been quite a while since I've read something I felt I absolutely could not put down until I found out what would happen in the end, even if that meant not sleeping.

Liese is an English girl in Australia, working for her uncle's estate agency. Here she meets Alexander, a wealthy, if somewhat weatherbeaten and often quite
Mar 21, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
psst, there is a real review now...

blair has written an amazing review of this book and even though she liked it more than i did, reading her review made me like the book more just because i liked her review so much. and all of her reviews, honestly.

i will probably review this, but for now - read hers and give it a million votes, because it is grand.

okay, so now i will actually review this. but you should still give blair a lot of votes, because she liked this book a lot more than i did, and
A. Bookzilla.
With all the complaining I did in my status updates reading this book, you'd think I'd have given it a star and half and been done with it.

No. This book gets four painstakingly earned stars from me. Never had a book worked so hard for my four stars.

Put together... the book is pretty awesome. You will never know how much it actually pains me to say this, because yes, at times I was shaking my head and screaming This is ridiculous! at my Kindle.

But there you have it.

I won't repeat the blurb, but
Sep 09, 2012 rated it did not like it
Despite the hype about this book, I didn't enjoy it at all. I found the characters not only unattractive, but boring. I've read and enjoyed many books featuring unpleasant people, but the characters in "The Engagement" are so two-dimesnsional I couldn't get to know them. They left me cold - I felt no interest in trying to understand and explain them. This applies not only to Liese and Alexander, but to the minor characters as well.

It's an unrealistic situation. It's confusing and difficult to
Jan 15, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery-thriller
To the undiscerning eye this couple may seem an ordinary pair,
but behind that picket-fence lurks a very sordid affair.
Melancholic and disturbing, a psychological tale that will unravel misjudgements and the reader put amidst a delirium and wonder at who is the concocter.
The story has you feeling for the woman and sometimes pity for the man in this story, an example of reeling another soul into a trap, a deception, actors on a stage.
A real stick with you tale, you will be musing over who is the
Liese Campbell is an English architect working in real estate trying to make ends meet, but she is in a financial crisis. Enters Alexander Colquhoun, the heir to a pastoral dynasty who is looking for a city apartment; or maybe something more. The two enter into an erotic game that includes sex for money. This leads to a weekend away in luxury, in what is known as the girlfriend experience. But is this just a fun game or is this a disaster waiting to happen?

Ive not read a book like this, at one
Jun 05, 2013 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2013-reads
This will be in the running for the worst novel I read all year. (Yes, it was almost as bad as The White Masai.) I read it because Hooper was an author with whom I was previously not familiar, and an earlier novel of hers had been nominated for the Orange Prize. I just searched the other 1 and 2 star reviews so that I could simply "like" someone's else's review and not have to write this, but no one else put into words what I thought; no one hated it in the way I did.

It began with an intriguing
Apr 21, 2015 rated it liked it
3 Stars

This was a very challenging book for me to rate as I vacillated between 2 stars and 4 stars from cover to cover. In the end the 2 star portions about evenly matched with the 4 star segments so by default I landed on the statistical mean of 3 stars.

Part of the challenge was the length of the book. Just 197 pages long, was it a very short book or a very long short story? It felt like there just wasn't enough time and space to fully explore the characters and develop a powerful story. It
Jun 09, 2013 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-2013, australia
What a bizarre little book. It's not every day I read a book with a naked woman on the cover, so I suppose I should have expected as much.

Liese Campbell, feeling the tightening noose of debt, falls into a complicated relationship with Alexander Colquhoun, an attractive, somewhat awkward farmer who pays her for sex. She believes they are playing a game, so when he invites her for a weekend to his isolated farmhouse in the Australian outback, she accepts, thinking the money he offers will solve
Bree T
Jul 25, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Liese Campbell is a British woman in her 30s who lost her job as an architect due to the financial crisis and made her way out to Australia where shes been working in Melbourne for her uncles real estate business. Most recently shes been showing Alexander Colquhoun properties. Alexander is the heir of a pastoral dynasty in country Victoria near the Grampians and lately hes been looking for a city crash pad.

The luxury apartments Liese has been showing Alexander dont seem to be to his taste so
Yvonne Boag
Dec 27, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: australian
Liese Campbell is going to stay with a man for the weekend. This is a man she knows and has sex with...a man who pays her. "I've never been with a prostitute before, he said after our bondage session, as if apologising for the awkwardness. I've never been a prostitute before, I thought. The word itself seemed to make me one."

What Liese imagines will be a dirty weekend quickly proves to be something more then that. Alexander is a different man then she thought and as the weekend progresses the
Bronwyn Rykiert
I did not enjoy this book. The back cover looked interesting enough but the story did not deliver for me.

I did not really like either character very much. Liese Campbell is working for uncle's real estate business and soon after meeeting Alexander Calquhoun to show him around some property she was having sex with him each time he called and she showed him another property. Liese thought they were playing a game with her telling stories of her past exploits etc n(which were not true) but it
Oct 16, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: hard-work, australian
One of my all-time favourite non-fiction books is "The Tall Man" - so when I discovered its creator had written a book which was a similar plot to THAT WHICH SHALL NOT BE NAMED which I could hold up while reading and laud over the luddites, I was more than excited.

I heard this great interview with Hooper about the book which made me want to read it even more -

Unfortunately, this book was surprisingly hard work. The premise was so dark and intriguing, and
Cheyenne Blue
What a mindfuck of a book.

What a perfect, compelling, chilling, beautifully written and utterly believable mindfuck of a book.

English girl, Liese, is working in her uncles real estate agency in Melbourne when she meets Alexander, an upperclass cattle farmer from Victorias western district, who is looking for a city residence. Liese seduces him on a whim and then takes the money he offers. The game commences: sex in ritzy properties for sale, with Liese taking his money each time. Alexander
Jessica Woodbury
Like the narrator, Liese, this book has you constantly on your toes, second-guessing what's real and what's not. Dark, constantly surprising, utterly creepy.

As you can tell from the variety of reviews, this isn't for a casual reader looking for a fun story. Hooper is working hard at keeping you disoriented. This isn't an escape book or a romance. If you don't like reading books that make you uncomfortable, avoid this because that's one of its primary goals.

Hooper's prose is strong, which is
Aly is so frigging bored
ARC courtesy of Scribner and Edelweiss.

This book is not for me. Unfortunately I haven't read the blurb before requesting this, but it plainly states it's a "psychological thriller". I hate those, I hate thrillers and Gothic novels.

I couldn't finish it. What the heroine goes through, her emotions, her unhappiness and uncertainty drive me insane. I picked up this book hoping for a fun read, but this is not it.

The writing is very good as well as the editing. The author has a way of creating the
Jul 20, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2017, women, desmarginar
goddamn it! when the last sentence of a book changes everything. a very claustrophobic story, such odd dynamic in the characters' exchanges and little games but who the hell was playing? are we dealing with an unreliable narrator or is this just a perplexing sexual roleplay? a discussion on female sexuality, liese's detachment and the self-conscious flatness of its characters is thrillingly exciting but utterly terrifying. "So this is how it ends: I would go howling into the dark night!"
Nov 30, 2012 rated it really liked it
This book requires some degree of intellectual engagement.

Therefore I cannot for the life of me think why this might be compared to Fifty Shades of Grey. Firstly, Cooper's book is LITERATURE, the other is incredibly awfully written trashy pulp. (If it's 'erotica' you are after, please try reading Anais Nin, who does it SO much better, maturer and classier than the 'rewritten' Twilight fanfic that bore no evidence of any intelligent or professional editing WHATsoever.) Secondly, this book has no
Dec 18, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: novels
enjoyable two character thriller (classified by the library - it has a little gun on the spine: however there are no guns apart from ones used on a farm). An Englishwoman works for a relation's real estate business in Australia and starts a sexual relationship with one of the clients she shows around a house. He turns out to be rich and seems to like paying her for her time. On a trip to his family mansion she begins to feel trapped there: he has an ulterior motive. Using the tropes of romantic ...more
Jun 22, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A truly bizaare book, I wasn't sure how to rate this novel. I don't want to give to much of the premise away, but pick certain details about it. This young woman has an affair w/ this man ( for money ), thus she is sorta of like a prostitute, but really want to pay off debts to Mr.Visa ( I thought that was a bit funny ). Well, he invites her to his home out in the bush ( country ) where I would think they are 25+ miles away from civilization. It seems he has 'kidnapped' her, but I thought their ...more
Sep 13, 2012 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Well what can I say about this book......I am still completely comfused as to what the in the world was going on. What a very strange story line. Were they both just as mad as one another or what. And what about those letters was he really writing them?????? And why go to all that trouble of making out he is so in love with her and wanting to save her from herself by marrying her and then in the end only dump her and send her on her way. Is he twisted or what. I wished I hadn't of read this book ...more
Ann has a dirty mouth
Aug 18, 2015 rated it really liked it
What a great little gothic! I couldn't stop turning the pages. I wish that parts of the book had been more clearly stated, and that the ending had been longer, but this is a fun book with a lot to say about the essential horror of traditional roles and the games men and women play to make them work. I may come back and write more about this later because although the book is short, it was very thought provoking.
Nov 02, 2012 rated it did not like it
not weird enough and the ending left me cold.
the characters are entirely two dimensional - you don't care about them, what happens to them or what they do to each other. MEH. I wanted him to kill her in the end just to make it interesting. and the last scenes were just nonsense.
Emily Crow
This book was kind of odd. It's literary fun fiction--a well-written psychological thriller, laden with symbolism and self-importance, about two rather strange people on an isolated farm in the Australian outback. Liese is an Englishwoman who is working for her uncle's real estate business in Australia, showing apartment buildings to Alexander Colquhoun, a prosperous farmer. On impulse, she takes off all her clothes and lies on a bed, and after they have sex, he offers her some money. She takes ...more
Drip...Drip goes the rusty tap, whose sounds implode in my highly sensitized brain. I look around and see skulls and rickety shapes dancing their strange dance, sucking and thriving on my fears. The sane part of me tries to bring a semblance of order to my half-crazed mind. 'It's the fucking light. It's playing with you'. Something flutters, a ray of hope. My soul spots a kindred and beckons it close. I can see it, yes there, right there. Come...come closer...rescue me... But it stays mute lost ...more
Jos M
This was an excellent, if very bleak, read. Liese was once an English architect, building bland flats.
Now, she works as a real estate agent, and partially as a naughty fantasy and partially to pay down some of her enormous debts, she has been having sex for money with Alexander, a wealthy farmer. And she is about to go on a paid weekend away to his estate in rural Victoria.

What follows is 250 pages of unbearable tension as it becomes increasingly obvious to Liese how mentally unwell Alexander
Sep 14, 2019 rated it liked it
Despite its mediocre rating, I couldn't put the book down. The more I read, the creepier the story became. Creepy, but wholly predictable - and that's what resulted in my rating. A sordid "affair" between English real estate agent/fake prostitute, Liese and her client/pretend lover, Alexander resulted in a tale of erotic imagination and deception. The "rules" of the "game" being played between them changed, trapping them both in a psychological duel. Who the victim was became blurred as ...more
Rose Cox
Feb 20, 2020 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Dec 30, 2018 rated it it was ok
Shelves: bookclub
A book that has you second-guessing what is actually happening. Psychological thriller perhaps, but not one on my must-read list.
Mar 05, 2017 rated it did not like it
Shelves: 2017
This was very well written and very clever, however I just wanted it to end. It was like watching a car accident in slow motion. I wouldn't recommend it to anyone.
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Chloe Hooper is an Australian author. Her first novel, A Childs Book of True Crime (2002), was short-listed for the Orange Prize for Literature and was a New York Times Notable Book. In 2005, she turned to reportage and the next year won a Walkley Award for her writing on the death in custody of Cameron Doomadgee on Palm Island, an Aboriginal community off the north-east coast of Australia. The ...more

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