Book Reviews: The Engagements

The Engagements


“From the New York Times best-selling author of Commencement and Maine comes a gorgeous, sprawling novel about marriage—about those who marry in a white heat of passion, those who marry for partnership and comfort, and those who live together, love each other, and have absolutely no intention of ruining it all with a wedding.

Evelyn has been married to her husband for forty years—forty years since he slipped off her first wedding ring and put his own in its place. Delphine has seen both sides of love—the ecstatic, glorious highs of seduction, and the bitter, spiteful fury that descends when it’s over. James, a paramedic who works the night shift, knows his wife’s family thinks she could have done better; while Kate, partnered with Dan for a decade, has seen every kind of wedding—beach weddings, backyard weddings, castle weddings—and has vowed never, ever, to have one of her own.

As these lives and marriages unfold in surprising ways, we meet Frances Gerety, a young advertising copywriter in 1947. Frances is working on the De Beers campaign and she needs a signature line, so, one night before bed, she scribbles a phrase on a scrap of paper: “A Diamond Is Forever.” And that line changes everything.

A rich, layered, exhilarating novel spanning nearly a hundred years, The Engagements captures four wholly unique marriages, while tracing the story of diamonds in America, and the way—for better or for worse—these glittering stones have come to symbolize our deepest hopes for everlasting love (Barnes and Noble).”

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My Review:

J. Courtney Sullivan has been one of my favorite authors ever since I read Commencement during the spring break of my senior year of college. I had the pleasure of hearing J. Courtney Sullivan speak at one of Aidan Donnelley Rowley’s Happier Hours. Courtney spoke about her tips for writers. One thing she said that really stuck with me was that writers are always working on their stories and collecting memories and experience that might be put to use years later. Courtney explained that the story line with Evelyn and Gerald was actually inspired by a story shared by a couple she’d met at a wedding years and years before she wrote the book. Courtney also shared how much research and time went into understanding Mary Frances Gerety, the ad writer who is responsible for the ad slogan “A Diamond Is Forever.” She interviewed Mary Frances Gerety’s living friends and family and even went to her former home. She and the new homeowner looked everywhere for more answers about Mary Frances Gerety’s life and finally, on Courtney’s last day, she found a box of her notes and belongings in the attic. I was so excited to read the book after hearing from the author and I highly recommend it!