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A Very Long Engagement

A Novel

Sébastien Japrisot; Translated by Linda Coverdale

Picador

A Selection of the Book-of-the-Month Club

Set during—and for many years after—the First World War, A Very Long Engagement tells the gripping and unforgettable story of a young woman's search for her fiancé, whom she believes might still be alive despite having been officially reported as "killed in the line of duty." Unable to walk since childhood, the fearless, sardonic, and wonderfully imaginative Mathilde Donnay is undeterred in her quest for information about five wounded French soldiers who were heartlessly abandoned by their own troops in January 1917—left to die, their hands bound behind them, in a no-man's-land between the French and German armies at the Picardy front.

A runaway bestseller in France when it first appeared in the early 1990s, A Very Long Engagement is at once a love story, a detective yarn, a meditation on both the brutality and beauty unique to modern times, and an extraordinary portrait of life in France before, during, and after the Great War.

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SATURDAY EVENING

Once upon a time, there were five French soldiers who had gone off to war, because that's the way of the world.
The first soldier, who in his youth had been a cheerful, adventurous lad, wore around his neck an identification tag marked 2124, the number assigned to him at a recruiting office in the department of Seine. On his feet were boots taken from a dead German, boots that sank into the mud of trench after trench as he plodded through the godforsaken maze leading to the front lines.
All five of the soldiers were bound for the front. They went single file, laboring
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REVIEWS

Praise for A Very Long Engagement

"Riveting...A fierce, elliptical novel that's both a gripping psychological thriller and highly moving meditation on the emotional consequence of war." ---Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times

"A kind of latter-day War and Peace...This is a book that is many things: a war story, a story of official corruption, an idyll of young summer love, and a rich and most original panorama of French men and women living in peace and robbed of it. Finally, giving it all an intent energy, it is a hybrid of the detective story and the classical quest." ---Richard Eder, Los Angeles Book Review

Reviews from Goodreads

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

  • Sébastien Japrisot; Translated by Linda Coverdale

  • Sébastien Japrisot was the pen name of Jean Baptiste Rossi. He wrote seven novels, including One Deadly Summer, The Sleeping Car Murders, The Passion of Women, and The Lady in the Car with Glasses and a Gun.
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    A Very Long Engagement

    A Novel

    Sébastien Japrisot; Translated by Linda Coverdale

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    Picador

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