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Indecent Proposal Paperback – September 1, 2001

4 out of 5 stars 69 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Arab billionaire Ibrahim Hassan offers Joshua Cantor $1 million if he will allow Hassan to sleep with his beautiful blond wife, Joan. But this ostensibly "indecent proposal" has darker overtones for Cantor, whose parents survived the Holocaust. He's a corporate speech writer with an average salary and he's "tired of being poor." He's also afraid of losing his well-bred wife. Joan has never complained about their financial situation, but now Joshua's whining drives her to consider Hassan's offer. Cantor, of course, is against it; but he's too simplistic in his outlook for a reader to share in his vaguely Faustian plight. In the end, Joshua does emerge as a likable and even memorable character, but along the way, repetitive monologue and frequently trite dialogue bogs down what is not an uninspired idea. Engelhard wrote The Horseman.
Copyright 1988 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Review

"Is this book fun to read? You betcha!" --NY Times Book Review

"The prose is cool and muscular, the story is great. In all, the fine tension between desire and high moral principal make Indecent Proposal a fast and well-crafted book...well-wrought characters, exhilarating pace..." --Philadelphia Inquirer

"written with the sparseness of Hemingway but the moral intensity of I.B.Singer." --Michael Foster, Author, Three In Love (Harper/Collins)
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: ComteQ Publishing (September 1, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0967407419
  • ISBN-13: 978-0967407418
  • Product Dimensions: 7.9 x 5.2 x 0.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (69 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,764,425 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Where to start with this book? There was much to enjoy about it--I liked how the author used the protagonist's heritage and experiences to inform his struggle. It wasn't just man against man, it was history against history. But although I started out understanding and sympathizing with the hero, somewhere along the way, I decided that I hated him. Josh is essentially a weak character who stands up for himself only when it doesn't matter, and doesn't take a stand when it does (when it comes to pimping out his wife, for instance). The wife is game for the idea from the very beginning, claiming that it is only sex, etc., but as I was reading I couldn't help wondering why it never occurred to her that Ibrahim's idea of a night of sex might not be the same as hers. How did she know she could trust him? I suppose that was minor consideration when the husband wanted the money and the wife wanted the experience. Anyway, by the end I found all the characters loathsome and thought they deserved every bad thing that happened to them. With that said, the book is absorbing, and I'm sure it is light years better than the pretty-people-in-trouble movie version. The Kindle edition of the book needs better formatting and has several grammatical and spelling errors sprinkled throughout, but since it was free, I can't complain too much.
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As I often do with novels I enjoy, I have now read “Indecent Proposal” several times. For me each reading further reveals the skill with which Jack Engelhard developed the plot, subplots, subtexts, themes and characters. The book isn’t “Love Story” with a twist. It’s much more in tune with novels like “The Postman Always Rings Twice” and “Double Indemnity,” complex and dark. It is comparable to some  of the finest works by such under-appreciated contemporary authors as James Salter (“Light Years”) and John Yates (“Revolutionary Road) as well as the more well-known hard-hitting American authors whose entire oeuvres I have also read (Fitzgerald, Hemingway, Bellow, Updike, Roth, DeLillo, McCarthy, and others).  

Engelhard’s well-crafted plot, exposition and dialogue - as well as the protagonist’s internal monologue - make Josh Kane, Joan Kane and Ibrahim Hassan (the couple and the rich guy in the book) as memorable and fully realized characters as any I have encountered in contemporary literature. Josh is a flawed “hero,” heroic only in battle, driven by an obsession to erase his memories of immigrant childhood poverty. Ibrahim is an Arab prince, bored with his unlimited wealth, a Machiavellian character with a soul as black as his hair and mustache.  Joan is a stunningly-beautiful woman from a wealthy Philadelphia Main Line family who is happy and satisfied with her middle-class life as Josh’s wife, but she finds herself trapped in a world of two macho men with a deep cultural hatred of each other battling for her “love.” She is the conscience of the story, the "truth-teller," fighting to maintain her individuality but recognizing she must sacrifice some of her basic beliefs and risk her marriage to help her husband resolve his obsession with money.
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I almost didn't download this because the movie was "meh" in my opinion. The book is a hundred times better. The characters are much more complex and sympathetic. Now I'd like to read everything he's written (thanks for making them free on Kindle!).
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As the title of my review implies, this book is very different from the movie as is often the case. I saw the movie as teenager, and didn't even realize it was based on a book. Typically I read a book before watching the movie. This book really makes you think about the issue of sex for money and delves into psyche of the main character. I like romances and happily ever after, and this book doesn't give you that. However, it does really make you think, and for that reason I'd recommend it.
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20 years after I watched the movie by the same title, I finally read the original novel "Indecent Proposal". Then, in 1993, for me the movie's main question reduced itself to: Why would any woman go back to Woody Harrelson when she can have Robert Redford? In fact, I thought that Woody Harrelson portrayed an unattractive person in comparison to Robert Redford, which made the question even more natural. Now having read the book, I think Harrelson's performance may have been the finest of all three.

I read 'Indecent Proposal' because after having read three other novels penned by Jack Engelhard, I realized that the 1993 movie's plot could not have been all. Something was missing. Engelhard writes much deeper content than the movie's story-line. Yes, I had known for a long time that the two men are really an Arab prince and a Jewish man, who escaped Hitler's Germany as child, but there had to be more, which Hollywood just simply cut.

For starters, there is the fact that both, Joan and Joshua, have been married before, that they have divorced their previous spouses to be with each other. While the movie made me believe that maybe Diana/Joan chose David/Joshua in some youthful excitement, and that she could have advanced to love another more mature man, in the novel that event had already happened, and she had chosen Joshua. That opens a whole new dimension, because what Joan had done before, namely leave her first husband, she could do again and leave Joshua; or it could be the other way around: Joan would never leave Joshua because she really knew for sure that Joshua was:
"... the outsider. The underdog. The fighter. The loner. The wanderer. You're everything I've been looking for." ... and that "other men were shallow".
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