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The Engagements

3.62  ·  Rating details ·  18,863 ratings  ·  2,140 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, 380 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 w…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)
Kristin Lerch I remember reading he was 8 years old in 1987. So yes that is correct. He was 24 in 2003 and also around in 1987. It’s the right ages 😁

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Average rating 3.62  · 
Rating details
 ·  18,863 ratings  ·  2,140 reviews

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May 15, 2013 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 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 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
Jul 05, 2013 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
May 03, 2013 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
Patricia Williams
Feb 05, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Another book that I loved. Really good, historical story about the woman who started the phrase "A Diamond is forever" for DeBeers back in the 1940's and also a story about one special engagement ring that went through 4 generations and the people that owned it. Would definitely recommend this. I love historical fiction and also a good drama! ...more
Apr 28, 2013 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
Sep 26, 2013 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.

Jun 27, 2013 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
Jun 29, 2013 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
Angela Risner
Jul 06, 2013 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
This is a hard one for me to rate. I didn't love the book but I liked the idea around it. At times it dragged and other times I was very engaged. It took me awhile to get into all 5 stories but when I did I was totally immersed in them. I think this will definitely make a good movie. Although, it may just be one of those minority books where the movie is better. ...more
Ron Charles
Jul 27, 2013 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.”

What you may
Jun 01, 2013 rated it liked it
This novel incorporates the factual history of the engagement ring and our fascination with size, clarity and price. The Engagements has more character development than plot. Sullivan relates the stories of four different marriages and their relationships spanning thirty some years. Evelyn and Gerald, long term marriage of 40 some years was perhaps my favourite story. The other three were also different but interesting. All the stories are linked by the true story of France's Gerety, who wrote, ...more
Jan 05, 2017 rated it really liked it
Some really excellent story telling happening here. The Engagements creates a fascinating intertwining of 5 different stories about marriage without being too complicated or cliché. This is not chick lit, nor is it light-hearted! One of my favourite reads of 2016!
Mar 22, 2013 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
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 05, 2013 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
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
Jul 17, 2013 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 u ...more
Jul 30, 2013 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 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
Apr 27, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2016-reads, own
I decided to take the month of June, a big wedding month, to read this book. And it was lovely. I've read all three of Courtney's books, and feel she really stepped it up several notches with this one. With five separate stories, which in some way we discover are connected in the end, she ably tells each one with the theme of diamonds and weddings somewhere in the mix. I know this book had mixed reviews, but I loved it and can't wait to see what she writes next. ...more
Apr 15, 2018 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
The story line never connected for me. I thought at one point it would connect to the first story but it never did in an easy way. The characters were all crappy ppl i couldn't connect with and I just never understood the plot to where it would have to do with diamonds. I usually like it when a book is told in many ppl's points of views but this one just didn't do it for me... ...more
J. Parra
Jun 25, 2013 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
Kelly_Hunsaker_reads ...
3.5 stars rounded up for one character.

Although this book is enjoyable it is also choppy and some sections are far better than others.

The Engagements is about five characters, who live in different places and times, seemingly unconnected from one another. Each woman narrates her part of the story, and this is an aspect of the book I particularly enjoyed. I love the intimacy of storytelling that lets me get inside the thoughts and actions of an individual, and shifts in narrative allow me to know
Kim Hollstein
Jul 15, 2013 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
Jan 10, 2013 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! ...more
Aug 29, 2013 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. ...more
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J. Courtney Sullivan is the New York Times bestselling author of the novels Commencement, Maine, The Engagements, and Saints For All Occasions. Maine was named a Best Book of the Year by Time magazine, and a Washington Post Notable Book for 2011. The Engagements was one of People Magazine’s Top Ten Books of 2013 and an Irish Times Best Book of the Year. It is soon to be a major motion picture prod ...more

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The winter holiday season tends to be a busy one in the romance aisle. To assist you in finding your next hot read to warm up a cold night,...
151 likes · 9 comments
“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
“The outside pressure to be married was intense. This had surprised her a decade ago, but now she thought she understood. People wanted you to validate their choices by doing the same thing they had done.” 13 likes
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