During the First World War five French soldiers, accused of a cowardly attempt to evade duty, are bundled into no-man's land and certain death. Five bodies are later recovered, the families are notified that the men died in the line of duty and the whole, distasteful incident appears closed. After the war the fiance of one of the men receives a letter which hints at what might have happened. Mathilde Donnay determines to discover the fate of her beloved amid the carnage of battle. "A Very Long Engagement" turns into an unusual and engrossing thriller as she discovers an increasing number of people trying to put her off the scent. Japrisot's achievement is to have written a novel that is both a suspenseful thriller and one which transforms a single small incident into the epitome of all wartime atrocities. The denouement, when it finally happens, is moving and horribly convincing.
"synopsis" may belong to another edition of this title.
'Diabolically clever… The reader is alternately impressed, beguiles, frightened, bewildered… A considerable achievement' -- Anita BrooknerFrom the Back Cover:
One bitter January night in 1917 five French soldiers, court-martialled for self-inflicted wounds, are pushed, their hands bound, into No-man's-land. A couple of days later, after the German trenches have been overrun, five French copses are given a hasty burial on the site. The youngest of the five condemned men has left a fiancée back home: Mathilde, only daughter of a rich industrialist, and confined since childhood to a wheelchair. The war over, Mathilde sets out to discover what has become of her fiancé.
'It has been a battle to avoid writing of Sébastien Japrisot's novel about World War 1 as a kind of latter-day 'War and Peace'. I lost. It is a kind of 'War and Peace''
RICHARD EDER, 'Los Angeles Times'
'A fierce elliptical novel that's both a gripping and philosophical thriller and a highly moving meditation on the emotional consequences of war'
MICHIKO KAKUTANI, 'New York Times'
'Only the best historical fiction can make the journey into a distant time and return with a believable sense of how things really were. That Japrisot's book has done so is a mark of his great talent and experience as a writer'
PAUL WATKINS, 'Washington Post'
'Clever, highly readable… Neither predictable nor surprising, the dénouement, when it finally happens, is shocking, moving and horribly convincing'
MICHAEL ESTORICK, 'Literary Review'
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