Wednesday, August 16, 2006

A Very Long Engagement - Sebastien Japrisot [August/06]

I have always had a big interest in the two world wars from a historical point of view. That being said, I like to read novels that are set during either World War I or World War II.

From the back:

Set during and after the First World War, AVERY LONG ENGAGEMENT tells the story of a young woman's search for her fiance, whom she believes might still be alive despite having offically been reported as "killed in the line of duty." Unable to walk since childhood, fearless Mathilde Donnay is undeterred in her quest as she scours the country for information about five wounded French soldiers who were butually abandoned by their own troops. A VERY LONG ENGAGEMENT is a mystery, a love story, and an extraordinary portrait of life in France before and after the War.

This was a very wonderful read, let me tell you. I like certain periods in history. I enjoy reading Canadian history in its entirety because that's where I live. The other things I enjoy are novels about Troy, Arthurian legends, the World Wars, and the surrounding time periods. Other things are enjoyable as well, but these things are the things that will make the books something I have to try. Other time periods I am more particular about. So, when I saw this book mentioned on a blog at one point and time, I added it to my to read list and it came up the other day when I was ordering from Amazon. I got it in the mail, sat down and read it, and I thought it was very well written.

If you haven't noticed, not a major reader of romance novels. So, I admit this was an iffy read because at its core, it is a romance novel. But it has so many other things going on that I could not help enjoying it. For starters, to think that men were executed during the war for not wanting to fight. It is rather depressing, these men shot themselves so that they would be sent home. They were considered cowards, but I don't really think they were. They shot off their arms, that is rather brave when you think about it. Can we really judge people that do not want to take lives. Look at all the lasting effects war has on people, to see all that slaughter. You really have to question whether or not war is worth it. To these men, some of them would rather not be able to write again than stay on the fields. And this really happened, too. That's the sad thing, the actual people may not be real, but the reality is.

Mathilde is an interesting character. The war has been over for several years and there she is still trying to find out what happened to her fiance. Many people try and prevent her from learning the truth, but she has the determination to learn the truth. She is not easily distracted, and actually brings hope to the other women that lost their husbands on that fateless day. Five men were let out into enemy lines to be shot by the enemy. Seems to me the method they chose to execute them was more cowardly than the actual act. It is a novel that will have you trying to solve the mystery of whether her finance died or not and at the same time, it makes you think about the consequences of war.

Has anyone seen the movie? I was wondering if it was worth watching.



  1. I'm probably not the most objective person to ask because first and foremost I am a huge fan of the director Jean-Pierre Jeunet. Amelie is one of my all-time favorite movies. Tres romantique. Secondly..and because of Amelie, I love Audrey Tautou. She is wonderful in the film adaptation of this book. It is beautifully shot and is an excellent film. I can't compare it to the book so don't know what your experience with it will be but I think the movie is fantastic.

  2. I think I will probably rent the movie.

  3. Oh do! I saw the movie in the theatre when it came out (was still living in the UK at that point) and I agree with Carl- it was beautifully shot. The war scenes were quite powerful. I haven't read the book but have been interested to do so since seeing the film. Someday...
    BTW, I also love Amelie. One of my fave films! :)

  4. You're right, the war scenes are powerful. The opening scenes where the various men are shown going off to war (done in Jeunet's trademark quirky style) really got to me. It emphasized how men the men drafted in the war, regardless of what side they were one, were just men. Some good, some bad, but living their own lives and how war really tore them away from their lives. Amazing.

  5. oh, and I left you a comment and link in response to your comment on the A Work in Progress site.

  6. hm, this is tempting. I will rent the movie next weekend if I have the time. :) Thanks for the pointers.

  7. OK, now I want to know if he died or not. Anyone wanna let me know? LOL.

  8. Read the book :p

    And, if someone wants to tell her, don't tell her on here.


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