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The Engagements

3.58  ·  Rating Details  ·  13,328 Ratings  ·  1,749 Reviews
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
Hardcover, 400 pages
Published June 11th 2013 by Knopf
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Christi Yes. Kate was so obnoxious. She was incapable of being happy for people who didn't want the same things that she does. Dan is a saint for putting up…moreYes. Kate was so obnoxious. She was incapable of being happy for people who didn't want the same things that she does. Dan is a saint for putting up with her. (less)

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Aug 06, 2013 Jess rated it liked it
I had mixed feelings about this one. It was quite engaging at times, but two of the main characters - Kate, especially, and Delphine - really got on my nerves.

Kate was so unbelievably smug and self-satisfied. I found her insufferable. One chapter in to her story, and I wanted to scream, "You don't want to get married? Don't get married. Nobody cares." It went on and on with how wonderfully she was raising her daughter, birthed at home by doula, natch. She raises her angel with organic foods and
Jul 03, 2013 Vivian rated it it was ok
I have to say I'm surprised at all the high ratings for this novel. While the premise was interesting - following the career, at intervals, of the woman who wrote the famous DeBeers slogan, "A Diamond is Forever," as well as the relationships of fictional couples who did, or didn't, choose to marry - I found the execution heavy-handed and much too verbose. I don't need EVERY SINGLE thought a character is having at the moment to be spelled out, and I also don't need the history and reasons behind ...more
switterbug (Betsey)
Aug 14, 2013 switterbug (Betsey) rated it it was amazing
Despite the whimsical cover, THE ENGAGEMENTS is not a lighthearted (or light-headed!) novel. Now that I've read it, I see the irony in the cover art. Moreover, the novel contains a substantial chunk of dark moments and cultivated topics. It is an ensemble piece of five separate stories (four of them about marriage), with a trajectory of over 60 years, that connect by the subject of diamonds in general and one in particular. Eventually, four of the stories are wedded together. One of them, the st ...more
May 03, 2013 Lisa rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction, first-reads
This is the type of novel that winds up getting unfairly characterized or dismissed as "women's fiction" or a "literary beach read."

Five characters, separated in time, and apparently without connection (they have one, and you should be able to guess it) narrate this novel. In 1972, Evelyn is a well-to-do grandmother, still in love with her husband, but devastated by her adult son's recent abandonment of his own wife and children. In 1987, James is a down-on-his-luck ambulance driver, working the
Jul 05, 2013 Nicholas rated it liked it
Having read Sullivan's previous two novels, and not being thrilled with either of them, I was slightly perplexed by my desire to buy and read this one. But then I realized that context was important: I was about to go on a transatlantic trip and I knew I would need something light and entertaining for the flights. And Sullivan really is entertaining.

The problem, however, is that her novels just aren't that smart. I appreciated all the archival research she did here into the diamond industry (an
Jan 28, 2015 Leanne rated it it was amazing
Backstory! Backstory! This is packed with backstory, and juicy, detailed storylines, and strong female characters, and bordering-on-cheesy-yet-still-surprising links.

We have 5 different plotlines: Frances, a single working girl at a large advertising firm, who is essentially engaged to her job. Her largest client is De Beers, and she is the brains behind the famous "A Diamond is Forever" slogan, which is very cleverly woven into the story. Then we have Evelyn, a very well-off retired teacher, wh
Angela Risner
Jul 06, 2013 Angela Risner rated it it was amazing
I have to admit that when I started this book, I was afraid I wouldn't be able to get through it. It starts off somewhat slow, but the story it weaves throughout time and characters is well worth continuing on.

The story follows several individuals as well as couples throughout time. We begin with Mary Frances Gerety, who came up with the de Beers slogan of "A Diamond is Forever." In 1947. Yes, a woman came up with that slogan in 1947. I love that. We follow her story throughout the book as she i
Jun 29, 2013 Alecia rated it liked it
This was a tough one for me to rate with stars, and I would give this 3.5/5 stars. I think the parts were greater than the whole here. J. Courtney Sullivan is a very good writer, and this book is comprised of seemingly unrelated threads of stories that jump all over the timeline. The one story that ties the theme (in a way) all together is the story of Frances Gerety. She coined the phrase "A Diamond Is Forever" as a young copywriter in 1947. Her story thread follows her and her career and it ap ...more
If you were curious about when and how the diamond engagement ring came into fashion, J. Courtney Sullivan's latest novel The Engagements will give you an idea. Life long bachelorette Frances Getty dreamed up the famous marketing line "Diamonds on Forever" in 1947, never knowing the impact it could and would have on romance, marriage and sales of diamonds.

Woven into the story of Getty are five relationships and the impact that a single diamond ring can have on them. At first, the connection betw
Sep 26, 2013 Carol rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction
Engagements was the perfect diversion to my usual fare of murder and mayhem. This enjoyable blend of historical fiction culled several stories told in bits and pieces over a span of one hundred years.. The Diamond (Ring) is the thing that glues all these stories together. Marriage in all its splendor, or not, is a secondary but important theme. Together, the stories revealed of these men and women living their lives, their hopes, their dreams, their triumphs and tragedies, kept me fascinated.

Ronya Misleh
Jul 02, 2013 Ronya Misleh rated it liked it
I didn't love this. While Sullivan is a good writer, this book was not as entertaining or engaging as her two previous novels. People call this novel "ambitious." I'd agree. Sullivan takes five separate stories, flips them all over the last 75 years or so, and then, in the last 40 pages, brings it all together. I knew the hodgepodge had to come together in some way and spent a good amount of time (read: too much) trying to figure out how all the characters fit together--if they even did!

She man
Dec 01, 2013 Nancy rated it it was ok
Shelves: book-club
**Warning! Review contains spoilers!**
My book club is reading this book, so even though I realized very early on that it wasn't really for me, I did finish it. I agree with many other reviewers: the writing itself was compelling and I will admit that the book is a bit of a page-turner. Although in the end, the bad far outweighed the good and I ended up NOT liking the book.

I found many of the characters loathsome and completely detestable. Kate: did not like her AT ALL. I actually found myself
Jul 17, 2013 Christin rated it really liked it
The premise of this book is totally predictable, but getting there is truly a pleasure and quite inventive. Sullivan has a smooth, readable style that I admire more and more with each successive novel. She writes tight prose and credible characters that are fun to meet, even if some may come across as slightly insufferable or preachy. I haven't read Maine yet, but I feel like as a Smithie, she feels honor-bound to have at least one token strident feminist in every novel. The fact that I just use ...more
3 stars - It was good.

This book has a unique setup: 5 different plotlines that are loosely connected, each following the diverse characters for a few decades. It was interesting to peak inside such different marriages and see how each one's relationship evolved.

Delphine's character was the most controversial and could inspire lively discussion in a book club. Unlike most other readers, I didn't cheer her on with her revenge (and seriously, that was too far with Charlie). I'd call it a trope exc
May 06, 2013 Patty rated it really liked it
The Engagements
J.Courtney Sullivan

My " in a nutshell" summary...

Sort of the history of De Beers diamonds and the way they were used in advertisements years and years ago. Add to that the stories of couples...and their diamond rings...that sums up this book!

My thoughts after reading this book...

This is a story that began with Frances...who was a woman working in advertising when women were only given "women" things to work on and made half the salary of men in advertising. France's came up with
Laura Hogensen
Jun 26, 2013 Laura Hogensen rated it liked it
Shelves: chick-lit
This novel incorporates the factual history of the engagement ring and America's fascination with it and with diamonds as a stones to be prized above all others. As Don Draper has said multiple times, what we think we want is really a creation of advertisers. The engagement ring as a symbol of love and diamonds as a symbol of status are a relatively new creation with no basis in history. Those sections of the novel were very interesting and Sullivan did a good job of incorporating fact with fict ...more
May 17, 2016 Elisa rated it really liked it
There were pieces of this book that I just loved-- pieces I know I'll be thinking about for years. Even though the Kate and Delphine stories made me rage at times (view spoiler), the Evelyn and James stories offered moments of such real, guttural pain complemented by such real, tear inducing beauty, that the book was a worthwhile investment for me.
Mar 07, 2013 Lauren rated it it was amazing
Shelves: wishlist
J. Courtney Sullivan can do no wrong! Each of her books stands alone, completely unique and thoroughly engrossing. I was immediately sucked into this story that spans decades and and shifts between fascinating characters. I also learned a little more about diamonds, every girl's best friend! I didn't want "The Engagements" to end and I'm sure every reader will feel the same way - a worthy read!
Bruna Vraničić Vujević
Neočekivano odlična!
Jun 30, 2013 Bonnie rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction
Amazon Decription: "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
Kim Hollstein
Jul 15, 2013 Kim Hollstein rated it it was amazing
The "F" word runs throughout this novel. Glorious, strong, liberating Feminism (gotcha!!!). It intrigues me how certain authors resonate and others leave me cold. Sullivan's narrative and a characters are riveting and honest, funny and real. Kate especially touched my heart, as I tend to passionately embrace causes as fervently..."She briefly imagined shaking the bag in front of him and saying, 'You realize these stupid things have fueled entire brutal regimes in Africa, right? They're shiny lit ...more
Jun 24, 2013 Martha rated it really liked it
I loved the concept behind this novel (Marguerite Yourcenar's A Coin in Nine Hands has been a favorite of mine) where the author tells the stories of various lives with only one connection--in this case diamonds. It was especially fascinating to get the story behind the trend of giving and desiring a diamond to seal an engagement, and the years of advertising campaigns that went into it. And I was fascinated by the fictionalized character of Frances Gerety, the real life woman who coined the wi ...more
J. Parra
Jun 25, 2013 J. Parra rated it it was amazing
In her ambitious new novel, The Engagements, J. Courtney Sullivan skillfully interweaves five separate stories united by one theme: marriage. It’s the sort of book that pleasantly reminds you how enjoyable fiction can be even as it gives you substantial points to ponder.
The book carries the reader through four distinct years and four different lead characters: 1972 (Evelyn), 1987 (James), 2003 (Delphine), 2012 (Kate). If this sounds daunting or formulaic, it is not. Each character and each cha
Jul 30, 2013 M rated it really liked it
As a child, I insisted that I would never wear an engagement ring (I was equally sure I would never get married. Need I say I type this wearing the diamond my husband gave me when he proposed?). To me, they stripped marriage of everything it should be, and highjacked it with all of the shallow, materialistic non values of the western world. This was only exacerbated in my all women's college (picture Wellesley circa 1952, only fifty years later) where the buzz in the computer lab was typically o ...more
Aug 27, 2013 Gayle rated it really liked it
Like Maine, The Engagements has more character development than plot, which was fine with me. It contains four stories about love and marriage, spanning thirty years between 1972 and 2012. Evelyn and Gerald have been happily married for 40 years, but are now facing the demise of their son’s marriage, which brings up some tough memories about how they met. Present-day Kate and Dan don’t believe in the need for marriage to establish their commitment to each other and their young daughter. James an ...more
Stephanie Knapp
Apr 17, 2013 Stephanie Knapp rated it it was ok
I was surprised to find myself a big fan of MAINE, and I went into this one with fairly high hopes. While it was entertaining enough to keep my interest throughout, I can't help but feeling like the linked character narratives are beneath Sullivan's talents. What I liked about MAINE was the intimacy with her characters, and some of that was missing for me in this one. A number of the characters also felt borderline cliche to me--the spoiled musician prodigy, the sexy, natural French woman, the w ...more
Mar 06, 2014 Rose rated it did not like it
I read the first 80 pages and just couldn't stop hating it. Like a girl from Belmont watched an episode of Mad Men and turned it into an icky derivative mess. Perhaps I was just in a cruel mood, but no. I don't believe your Boston characters, I don't believe your Philly characters. And I do believe your obsession with marriage is troubling.
Jan 27, 2014 Katie rated it really liked it
I really enjoyed this book. It's mostly fiction, lightly-historical-fiction, all about marriage and diamonds. That description makes it sound frou-frou but it's not. It's really a series of interlocking stories about 4 married or virtually married couples all (eventually) tied together by a single diamond ring, over the decades of the 20th/early 21st century. Then there's also an "anchoring" story, which progresses through time (unlike the others), about the woman in the advertising department a ...more
Aug 29, 2013 Rachel rated it it was amazing
The Engagements follows five different characters throughout their lives, all of whom live primarily in different eras. One of the characters is Frances Grerety, the real-life advertising executive who wrote the slogan "A Diamond is Forever." I was particularly interested in her story because my husband is in advertising and also an episode of the TV show Mad Men briefly mentioned the story behind "A Diamond is Forever." It's clear from reading the author's note, that Ms. Sullivan did a substant ...more
Ron Charles
Nov 11, 2013 Ron Charles rated it really liked it
Thirty years ago, I spent all the money I had on two purchases: The first was a top-of-the-line Brother typewriter for $800. The second was an engagement ring for $425. When my future mother-in-law saw the diamond, she said, “Wait a minute, I need my glasses.” But my fiancee wasn’t troubled by the size of the stone or even by the cost of my typewriter. And in any case, she got the last laugh: My Brother is long gone; my wife is still here.

As you probably know, “A diamond is forever.”

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J. Courtney Sullivan is the author of the New York Times bestselling novels Commencement, Maine and The Engagements. Maine was named a Best Book of the Year by Time magazine, and a Washington Post Notable Book for 2011. Courtney’s writing has also appeared in The New York Times Book Review, The Chicago Tribune, New York magazine, Elle, Glamour, Allure, Men’s Vogue, and the New York Observer, among ...more
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“She remembered how she had felt cleaning out her father's clothes, wanting at once to hold on to every dirty handkerchief and musty page of sheet much, and yet wishing she were anywhere else on earth, free of it all.” 18 likes
“When she was pregnant with Teddy, she feared that she’d give birth to a child who disliked reading. It would be like giving birth to a foreign species.” 11 likes
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