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Indecent Proposal Paperback – September 1, 2001
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|Paperback, September 1, 2001||
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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.
"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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Top customer reviews
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".
Even more important and not surprising to me, Hollywood cut the book's deciding element about "the movie", the movie Ibrahim took of his sexual encounter with Joan. Obviously, Hollywood understands the power of the visual image better than anybody else, Hollywood creates the images, which sway our feelings toward this or that. A visual document/proof never goes away, which is exactly why Hollywood never wants to point to how powerful the movie industry is in influencing people's minds.
In his novel Engelhard refers occasionally to the Holocaust Josha escaped as a child with his parents. It is because of the pictures that Amercian soldiers took when entering the concentration camps that we will never forget the Holocaust, whereas other undocumented atrocities in earlier history have become this blob, which we cannot associate any feelings with. Pictures document feelings and create feelings.
Joan does not know that her feelings, while having sex with Ibrahim have been recorded, but Ibrahim tells Joshua, and Joshua even gets to see part of the movie. Joshua mentions the recording of the movie to Joan but claims later that there is no movie and that he just said so. Uncertainty about possible documentation is even worse and Joan has to live through it. Both, Joan and Joshua cannot pretend that this sexual episode was just "something/nothing", because once they know or even only suspect that visual documentation recorded its reality it can't be just forgotten. In life, "documented reality" changes everything for real people (excluding politicians like John Edwards).
In his novel, Engelhard puts his finger on what influences too many of us to do things, which we don't really believe but only hope for:
"People are vulnerable, Josh, and I'll tell you why. They're vulnerable, because everybody wants something better. You hear that? Everybody wants something better out of life. Nobody, nobody is happy with what he's got. That's why we prosper here in this business . We cater to that, to that weakness, to that weakness in everybody--even the Ibrahims of the world."
However, when late in the novel Joshua thinks:
"As I made my way over I remembered this from the Midrash: A man's feet lead him to his destiny."
he is giving us hope that with our thinking we can direct our feet to walk to the destiny we choose.
"Indecent Proposal" is a fabulous read to encourage the intelligent and entertaining pondering about where we want to go and which paths to choose. Highly recommend to all over the age of 18. And, yes, the sex scene is very steamy.
Gisela Hausmann, author & blogger
We all know the story – apparently happily married couple try their luck in Atlantic City, get propositioned by a billionaire, and deal with the repercussions. However, the novel explores the still relevant issue of Arab vs Israeli conflicts. Joshua is Jewish and has had harrowing experiences of WWII, and Ibrahim (the billionaire) is Arab and has his own views. Although this may sound a strange aspect to write about, it actually adds to the morality tale. It isn’t just simply a question of “would you spend a night with anther person for $1,000,000?” – the different cultural and historical layers all play a part, especially in the aftermath of dealing with fall out from decisions made.
The character development in the book is really strong. Joan and Josh are not two naive high school sweethearts – they’ve been around the block a few times. Throughout, you will (or at least I did) love and hate these characters with equal measure. No one is perfect, and no one is correct all of the time.
This is not a comfortable read by any stretch of the imagination. At times it feels so authentic that you feel like you are a fly on the wall. The discomfort is what really makes this novel; the rawness, emotion, morality, faith, lack of faith, missed opportunities, that you witness when reading this novel, is what sets it apart from most other morality tales. Just like real morality and real humans, this tale will take you all kinds of directions – some expected and many not.
Most recent customer reviews
Had seen the movie, that managed some level.
Had to wait years to find the novel. Thanks, Amazon!Read more
Not a favorite of mine at all.
Definitely not one i would re-read.Read more