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Mr Hire's Engagement

3.74  ·  Rating details ·  811 ratings  ·  129 reviews

Georges Simenon's chilling portrayal of tragic love, persecution and betrayal.

'One sensed in him neither flesh nor bone, nothing but soft, flaccid matter, so much so that his movements were hard to make out. Very red lips stood out from his orb-like face, as did the thin moustache that he curled with an iron and looked as if it had been drawn on with India ink; on his che

Kindle Edition, Penguin Modern Classics, 158 pages
Published November 6th 2014 by Penguin (first published 1933)
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3.74  · 
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 ·  811 ratings  ·  129 reviews

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Glenn Russell
Dec 20, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

"Now I'm afraid to run into him on the stairs!" cried the concierge. "I've always been scared of him. Everyone's scared!" No question about it, Mr. Hire gives everyone the creeps, especially the men and women in his seedy apartment building, and most especially after a prostitute is brutally murdered just two blocks away.

And Mr. Hire doesn’t have to metamorphose into a giant Gregor Samsa-like bug; being a loner, an outsider who looks the way he does - short flabby body, round staring eyes, puff
A few weeks ago, I witnessed one of those little internet dramas that one often sees on Goodreads. A person calling himself "Edward" starting leaving comments on my reviews, particularly my long Charlie Hebdo thread. Most of Edward's comments didn't make sense, coming across either as extracts from an obscure postmodernist novel (the charitable interpretation) or the deranged ravings of somebody who'd forgotten to take his medication (the uncharitable one). Every now and then, however, Edward wo ...more
Nov 20, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Kafka fans
4.5 stars. As John Gray stated so aptly in the afterword to this extraordinarily powerful novella, “It is as if Simenon is saying, ‘This is a human life; do not turn away.’ We do not turn away.”

Indeed the ending of this intense psychological portrait brought this home with terrific force and poignancy. I wasn’t expecting to be struck down so utterly, to be so completely unable (and fiercely unwilling) to turn away. And while the story was admittedly somewhat slow to start, it all finally came t
Apr 01, 2009 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Nancy Oakes
for the longer version (which I mistakenly just left long here earlier - my apologies), you can go here; otherwise, read on.

The murder of a call girl in the Villejuif area of Paris has more than a few people on edge. The murder itself is not an event in this novel, but what happens to the protagonist of this novel, M. Hire, is based on fallout from the fear surrounding the killing. It all begins when the concierge of M. Hire's apartment building spies a bloody towel on his washstand while deli
3* Mr Hire's Engagement
4* Act of Passion
4* Pietr the Latvian (Maigret, #1)
3* The Carter of 'La Providence' (Maigret, #2)
3* The Late Monsieur Gallet (Maigret, #3)
4* The Hanged Man of Saint-Pholien (Maigret, #4)
3* A Man's Head (Maigret #5)
4* The Yellow Dog (Maigret #6)
4* The Night at the Crossroads (Maigret #7)
2* A Crime in Holland (Maigret #8)
3* The Grand Banks Café (Maigret, #9)
3* The Dancer at the Gai-Moulin (Maigret #10)
3* The Two-Penny Bar (Maigret, #11)
3* The Shadow Puppet (Inspecto
Apr 13, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: georges-simenon
A gem of a book. This is a great psychological drama where the main character is an unlikeable human being, Mr Hire. A woman is murdered near his apartment and because of his appearance, demeanor and furtive behavior he is suspected of the murder. We are slowly drawn into his world of a job where he scams people out of money, a visit to a brothel, bowling, peeping Tom and an inability to interact with people as seen with Alice and the concierge.

The ending, chased by a mob is very poignant.
Feb 15, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A short -- very short! -- novel that, by its end, had my eyes moistening as its inevitable tragedy mercilessly panned out. The tale's finale, we realize, will come a few pages after the novel's end, when hopefully a great wrong will be righted and the bad guys get their comeuppance; in the mean time, what we're left with is a sad injustice.

M. Hire is a solitary oddball, a sort of flabbily packed sausage on legs, who lives in a seemingly rather seedy apartment building somewhere in one of the les
Psychological and contradicting, Simenon's Monsieur Hire's Engagement was an outcast's story. A man of eccentric nature and reclusive behavior, his eventual involvement in a woman's murder and a series of flight and fight chase with the police to prove another's innocence instead of your own. This was a tale of obsession and repressed sexual desires, getting off on fantasized cravings of the mind; a voyeur of scent and sight through windows and restrained touches. A skin-to-skin dilemma of the f ...more
Apr 26, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: france, mysteries, simenon
This early roman dur by Georges Simenon is about a loner suspected by the neighborhood of a rape/murder -- which in fact he did not actually commit. His background in mail order pornography and a prison term for exposing himself in public make the police think otherwise. M. Hire is uncomfortable around women, though he has the beginnings of a sick relationship with Alice, the redhead who works at the dairy, and through whose window he likes to peep.

The title of Mr Hire's Engagement could refer t
Mar 04, 2016 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I had to read this book for school. It was just not good. I didn't like any of the characters, partially because none of them had any good qualities and partially because we never really got to know anyone. This is another one of those books that I'm just left wondering why on earth the author felt the need to write this down. It doesn't really feel like there was a point to any of this. And a lot of the things that I know about Mr. Hire I got from the summary on the back of the book. None of th ...more
Aug 18, 2018 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Ugh !
I never thought I would get done with this thing. It was like sticking pins in my eyeballs, a similar feeling of when I read ' Waiting for Godot '.

I saw this film ( Monsieur Hire ) the other week so I figured if I found the film interesting, the book would probably be good too. NOT !

I will save you the trouble if I have put you off by now of telling you everything you need to know :
grey pieces of paper, a Peeping Tom and breast fondling.

You're welcome !
Feb 06, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Genevieve Speegle
This French novel follows Mr. Hire as he's suspected of murdering a prostitute. Because he's a sketchy, lonely man, detectives follow his every move assuming he's guilty, even though nothing ties him to the crime.

He falls in a type of love with a woman across from his flat, and he watches her through the window each night.

While the author is famous for simply writing a character's actions and not their motivations, it seemed a bit confusing at times. I never fully understood the woman Alice's pe
Chris Shaffer
Nov 18, 2007 rated it liked it  ·  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
Richard McDonough
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.
Branford Burgundy
Am I the only one that feels for Mr. Hire? The ending reminds me of Fritz Lang's tragic characters. Also, Bowling!
Apr 06, 2008 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: general-fiction
If you liked Camus' "The Stranger," you'd likely enjoy The Engagement. Simenon may be a pioneer in mystery fiction, but "The Stranger" is still a superior work.
Daria Dykes
This is an ice-cold book. No matter how much you dislike the protagonist (and you have to dislike him) what he is put through is the epitome of inhumanity. Distilled noir.
Jul 04, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Stark, behavioristic crime fiction. Nihilistic without despair, Simenon cast his steady, clinically detached gaze at the suffering of the dispossessed.
Anatoly Molotkov
A dark, compelling study of an awkward individual from a minority background in a society that is alternately brutal and indifferent. Moody and effective. Patrice Leconte's 1989 film based on the novel is superb as well.
May 28, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: crime-mystery
These Penguin editions are quite nice. This book, which is an early novel (1933), is not bad. But amazingly, before the start of the text, in the section “About the Author”), they have printed a spoiler which completely gives away the ending!
Dec 29, 2014 rated it liked it
This short novel is an entertaining if slight read, where the eponymous Mr Hire becomes the suspect in a murder case purely because he is in love with a girl who is in a relationship with the real killer, and he wishes to protect her. His daydream of them becoming a couple is doomed from the start, as it becomes clear she is attempting to frame him for the crime. It's a short, understated novel about how we fail to establish connections and make too many assumptions about what others are thinkin ...more
Susan Abraham
Mar 30, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Adam Moss
Apr 13, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
May 30, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Simenon's The Engagement is true noir. It's merciless. It's not the story of a detective bringing about justice or keeping his cool in a world gone mad. There is no justice to be found anywhere, only hostile weather.

This is a lean story about a bumbling lowlife destroyed by an indifferent world. The world is described cinematically, with atmosphere and action moving it along. There is no time wasted on the cognitive activity or emotional experience of the characters. No one is likable and no one
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
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Feb 17, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.
Jan 14, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
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NYRB Classics: The Engagement, by Georges Simenon 1 6 Oct 22, 2013 09:18PM  

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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
“C'era un'atmosfera da domenica sera, quando ci si sente fiacchi senza aver fatto nulla, invasi da un molle torpore, e i minuti scorrono più lenti che gli altri giorni.” 2 likes
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