Received: Received a copy from the Random House of Canada in exchange for an honest reviewRelease Date: June 11, 2013
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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.
I had heard Lindsey talking about this book at one point and it sounded really adorable and I was really interested in how an author could take the history of a diamond ad campaign and turn it into a story. I was pleasantly surprised with what J. Courtney Sullivan did with this story.
What was really intriguing for me in this story is how Sullivan told five different stories over the course of almost 100 years and really seeing how marriage and the idea of a diamond changes over time. When I got this book, I was actually surprised at how large it was, but I kept turning the pages, I wanted to know more about each of these characters and how they view relationships (theirs and those around them). I loved that each section began with a time in Frances Gerety's career as she comes up with the famous "Diamond's are forever" and watches as ads change and grow (like the idea of marriage and diamonds) with the different times.
I really enjoyed seeing how over time, relationships change for people, up to the present where same-sex marriages are now legalized and many people live as common-law instead of getting married. Each of these characters have different issues in their relationship, and readers see how each person struggles through the different aspects of this. Readers are taken throughout time, and view these different people all in such different situations.
What was really cute, was how these couples were all connected. As I followed these four people over the course of the novel, I just assumed that Sullivan was showing us different relationships through time, but in the very end she connects them all in a very interesting way (in my opinion). This book captures the evolving view of diamonds and marriage perfectly.
The only thing I would have liked was seeing a little more depth to some of the characters, I felt like there were a few scenarios like that of Kate and Dan that just seemed to be missing a little something. All in all though I enjoyed this book and thought it was interesting to see how J. Courtney Sullivan wrapped this story around Frances Gerety and her signature line "A Diamond is Forever". Honestly, this book was adorable and emotional at times, and everything worked so well. I want to go back and read more of Sullivan's work.