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The Great Swindle

(Les Enfants du désastre #1)

4.18  ·  Rating details ·  11,595 ratings  ·  1,187 reviews
The year is 1918, the war on the Western Front all but over. An ambitious officer, Lieutenant Henry D'Aulnay-Pradelle, sends two soldiers over the top and then surreptitiously shoots them in the back to incite his men to attack the German lines.
When another of D'Aulnay-Pradelle's soldiers, Albert Maillard, reaches the bodies and discovers how they died, the lieutenant shov
Hardcover, 442 pages
Published September 22nd 2015 by MacLehose Press (first published 2013)
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Trudy Yes by maclehosepress, quercus publishers; just got it in Waterstones in U.K.
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Average rating 4.18  · 
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Jim Fonseca
This novel won France’s highest literary award, the Prix Goncourt, in 2013.

To summarize from the blurbs: two French WW I veterans find themselves in a society whose “reverence for its dead cannot quite match its resentment for those who survived.” They are penniless. One lost the lower half of his face and is morphine addicted. Physically and psychologically destroyed by the war, both are cut off from their families (one man is gay, abandoned and disowned by his father) and the men seeks revenge
Ahmad Sharabiani
Au revoir là-haut = The Great Swindle, Pierre Lemaitre

The Great Swindle is a 2013 novel by Pierre Lemaitre, set in France in the aftermath of the First World War. It was published in French in 2013.

It won several notable awards, such as the Prix Goncourt, and was adapted into a 2017 film of the same name.

تاریخ نخستین خوانش: روز هجدهم ماه آوریل سال 2016 میلادی

عنوان: دیدار به قیامت؛ نویسنده: پیر لومتر؛ مترجم: مرتضی کلانتریان؛ تهران، نشر آگاه، 1394؛ در 495ص؛ شابک 9789644163456؛ موضوع: داستانهای ن
A very strange book to have won the Goncourt Prize – it's more superficially engaging than you might expect from French literary fiction (the author is better known as a writer of thrillers), but also much more shallow. In fact it doesn't really seem to be about anything, except for a string of vaguely related incidents involving two survivors of the First World War – and at more than six hundred pages, that's really not enough. This book is just far too long. In fact by the time you finally rea ...more
As the hundredth anniversary of armistice day approached, I realised that I'd read only one book about WWI in the last four years in spite of having had the intention in 2014 of reading many. Pierre Lemaitre's book, which begins during the last days of the the war, seemed a fitting way to make reparation for my failed intention.

As it turns out, the one book I did read back in 2014, also by a French author, was set at the beginning of the war so the two novels bookend the period neatly. There are
Sep 18, 2015 rated it it was amazing
This novel takes place over three years: 1918, 1919 and 1920. As befitting a book which deals with the aftermath of WWI, this begins in the trenches. War is almost over and the soldiers of the 163rd Infantry Division are, frankly, not keen to take part in a proposed offensive to cross the Meuse. For Lieutenant d’Aulnay Pradelle though, who fears peace will come before he achieves the glory he yearns for, it is one last chance to use the war for his own ends – and nothing is going to stop him…

Apr 09, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: pierre-lemaitre
Like all war or post-war novels, this one describes soldiers who were briefly called heroes and then were left to live in poverty and despair. But there is more than this thread in the story. It's also a story about failed relationships between a son and a father, betrayal of loved ones, friendship, greediness, corruption, secrets, pain, lost serenity... The novel is tragic and comic at the same time, where protagonists meet the end that had been written long since...

But he feels so tired. Exhau
Roger Brunyate
May 19, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: other-languages, ww1
To their graves again
Those who thought that this war would be over quickly are all dead. Of the war, of course.
Early November, 1918; what a marvelous opening! This massive novel, winner of the Prix Goncourt for 2013, has all the makings of a popular success. Something of a sucès-de-scandale in France, where it challenges the national preoccupation with patriotic valor, and paints a vitriolic portrait of virtually the entire establishment. But it is also a mighty good story by any account, t
Marina Sofia
Dec 20, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A painless way to learn more about the aftermath of the First World War. Painless, because it is a very readable book, with an easy, natural flow to the writing style (not at all pretentious, which is what is sometimes associated with the Goncourt Prize). The subject matter, however, is painful. The post-war apathy, disillusionment, cynicism and fraud are very well described. The author is great at maintaining pacing and characterisation throughout - his experience with exciting 'polar' narrativ ...more
Nov 10, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2019
“Those who thought that this war would be over quickly are all dead. Of the war, of course.”
Jul 03, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
The start of this novel is sharp and aims straight at the heart: "Every single one of those who thought that war would soon be over had died long ago, actually because of that war." The four hundred pages that follow depict the madness and violence a group of young men had to endure. Men who thought that they were fighting for honour and ideals and met just death, death of the body and death of ideals and even the death of their gods. But Au revoir la-haut is not just a war novel ( although in t ...more
oh a long, engrossing and surprisingly tricky novel of post wwi france, how the fat cats and patriots sort of started the war, profited from the war, and profited from winning the war, profited in death and heroes, and how two 'grunts' profited from this greed and 'patriotism'. of course, this is much much more than that facile summary, as 400 plus pages of war, wounds, families, poverty, ptsd, filthy rich, abject poor, hard drugs, art, love and loss, hatred and revenge all play a part in this d ...more
Aug 21, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: various-fiction
this book is a deep inpact!
Apr 23, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Chronique à venir sur le blog 😉

So, I was nearly finished with this review when Goodreads decided to shut down, and I lost all of it. Great, I’m so glad to start over again :D *irony*

I borrowed this book from a friend a loooooong time ago – count in years! – but I was intimidated by it: length, topic, and prize winner. I don’t really get along with French prize winners I discovered! A friend of mine mentioned this book a few days ago, so I decided I had to give it a chance. And I was hooked
Andy Weston
This ambitious novel is set in Paris over the four years beginning just as the Great War ends. It's start is the most memorable and hard-hitting part of the book, set in the trenches 2 weeks before the armistice. After Edouard saves his life but gets badly injured, the young soldier Albert dedicates his life to his new friend's recovery. Lemaitre writes with much authority about the years that follow the war. His characters are involved in dealing with grief, where the dead shall finally be laid ...more
Stephen Goldenberg
Set during the final days of the First World War and it's immediate aftermath in France, this is a powerful and compelling novel. Its three main characters, Captain Henri d'Aulnay Pradelle, a down-at-the-heel aristocrat, Albert Maillard, a working class Parisian, and Edouard Pericourt, the gay artist son of a wealthy banker, are involved in a horrific incident on the battlefield. After the war, their lives still remain intwined.
The early part of the novel vividly depicts the horrors of war and t
Benjamin baschinsky
Sep 22, 2017 rated it it was amazing
An amazing story, that left me guessing along the way which way it would turn.
This was a book purchased at Alibis, not very accessible.
Pierre LeMaitre a renown novelist lets you he reader get into his head as he weaves the story.
Sep 09, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
It was a fascinating, tragic/comic portrayal of post-war Paris and the difficulties returning veterans had trying to find work, mixed in with the ongoing saga of double swindles — the false monuments one carried out by Edouard and Albert and the graveyard swindle by Henri.
Mar 21, 2021 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Two veterans of WW I, come up with an excellent way to payback a society that fetishises their sacrifice but shuns their being. It was funny and in some parts moving.
Lew Watts
This was, ultimately, a slow read. After the magnificence of the Camille Verhœven series, with the remarkable Alex, I hardly recognized the writing. It feels strange to criticize a novel that won the Prix Goncourt and the Crime Writer's Associations's International Dagger award, but I felt The Great Swindle lacked the sharpness, unpredictability and shock of Lemaitre's earlier works. Perhaps it would have been better if I had read the French original. My Kindle edition was strewn with typos, but ...more
Feb 11, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Even now, every Armistice Day only praises the dead: returning with injuries or experiences that ruin your life and you find any promises of “a land fit for heroes” disappear like the crock of gold at the end of the rainbow.
My generation grew up with the normality of WWI injuries- one leg, no legs, one arm, bits missing anywhere, faces cobbled together, the effects of gas...As children you just accept that without question- some people have disabilities (though I have to admit that the idea of
Maria Carmo
Brutally written, yet eerily tantalizing! The translation has its low moments. Translating "obsédé" into Portuguese as obsidiado????!!! instead of "obsessed"?! Translating "Saiu com muitos papéis em seu nome" when papiers in French are identity documents???!!! Well... Not to speak of the amount of idiomatic expressions in French which were translated literally into Portuguese and could have had a better expression...

Still, I loved the book. Next time I will read it in French.
Razvan Banciu
Jul 28, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A MAGNIFICENT BOOK, more definetly the best I've read in years. It has all you're looking for in such a novel: the epic grandness from Hugo's opera, the natural born sense of comradeship which pierces from Erich Maria Remarque's writings, the russian perverse pessimism of their great classics, the playful scripts from O. Henry's stories, including the happy-bitter end.
It took me over o month to finish, but that was my choice: delicious ones have to enjoyed with the teaspoon...
Aug 01, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sad-great-war, paris, 2016
Only 4 stars because I felt the ending was a little anticlimactic and the character of Pauline could have been fleshed out a bit more. But otherwise, easily one of the top books I've read this years. ...more
Feb 20, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Excellent story. Well documented and original. A bit far fetched at the end.
Aug 31, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Jan 29, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: french, fiction
Someone needs to make a study about how French literature is really, mostly, about money. Sure, other world literatures deal with l'argent but I find only French literature spells out amounts down to a cent. Whether the Count of Montecristo, Madame Bovary or Le Petit Prince, the accountant reigns supreme. And so it is no surprise this novel is about money at its core and how the value and even self-regard of a person is tied up with it to the point that moral, familial or patriotic consideratio ...more
Feb 16, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: crime, european, ebook, fiction
Set in France in the aftermath of the First World War, THE GREAT SWINDLE is loosely a crime novel, owing to the fraud perpetrated as part of the ongoing action. What it really is, is an exploration of the treatment of returned servicemen, the damage - physical and mental - that war leaves in it's wake, and the similar damage societal pressure causes.

In what turned out to be a massive book (I was reading an ebook version of it and didn't twig to the size until well into the story), Lemaitre intro
Billy O'Callaghan
In October 1918, amid rumours of an impending armistice, the soldiers in both trenches, weary of fighting, are content to sit out the remaining days. But for some who have made war their only identity, the appetite for slaughter has not waned. One such man is Lieutenant d'Aulnay-Pradelle, fallen gentry with a hatred of everything and everyone that keeps him from personal gain. When his orders for a final push are met with general apathy, he covertly shoots down a couple of his scouts. Assuming t ...more
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Pierre Lemaitre is a French novelist and screenwriter. He is internationally renowned for the crime novels featuring the fictional character Commandant Camille Verhœven.

His first novel that was translated into English, Alex, is a translation of the French book with the same title, it jointly won the CWA International Dagger for best translated crime novel of 2013.

In November 2013, he was awarded t

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Les Enfants du désastre (3 books)
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“She had three seconds in which to decide whether to be rich or spend the rest of her life as a housemaid.

She only needed one.”
“They're much the same, the enemy, the war, the bureaucracy, the army, they're all things that no-one understands, and no-one can stop.” 1 likes
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