Leanne's Reviews > The Engagements

The Engagements by J. Courtney Sullivan
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it was amazing
bookshelves: read-in-2013, top-2013, girly-but-smart

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, who is the wife of Gerald and mother of Teddy - who is looking to divorce Evelyn's precious daughter-in-law. Next, James, an EMT struggling to make ends meet and provide for his high school sweetheart turned wife and two sons. Then Delphine, a sophisticated 40-something Parisian woman, who is enticed away from her safe and comfortable world by a whirlwind romance with a young American violinist. And finally, Kate - a woman who abhors marriage and anything to do with it, who is unfortunately stuck planning her cousin's very elaborate gay wedding and dealing with her much more traditional mother and sister. Essentially tying all of these stories together is a particular ring that appears first through a traditional proposal and is at some point stolen, inherited, lost, and then taken apart and put back together.

This book is my perfect guilty pleasure. I am a romantic at heart, and I love love stories. But I hate the clumsy, overwrought way they are often written, and I tend to similarly hate the silly, fluffy, more comedic versions. On the contrary, The Engagements certainly has love, but it also has independence, emotional maturity, and it is written in a more literary, nuanced way than 95% of "chick lit" (I'm not a huge fan of this phrase, but it is what it is).

Sentimental, far-reaching - it resonated with me for several days after (even as I was enjoying a week of sun-filled vacation), and to me that is the mark of a great book.
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Reading Progress

April 28, 2013 – Shelved
April 28, 2013 – Shelved as: to-read
July 15, 2013 – Shelved as: next-5
July 25, 2013 – Started Reading
August 7, 2013 – Shelved as: read-in-2013
August 7, 2013 – Finished Reading
February 19, 2014 – Shelved as: top-2013
May 12, 2014 – Shelved as: girly-but-smart

Comments Showing 1-12 of 12 (12 new)

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message 1: by Jill (new) - added it

Jill I was so not intrigued by this book's blurb, but your review makes me want to read it now! (Which I can't, because Rabbit Run and then Night Film.) You are a crime to my to-read list. And I still have to hear what you thought of Crazy Rich Asians...

(Also I read another NF review today where the person said she immediately turned back to page 1 after finishing it and omgomgomg so excited.)


Leanne 1) Yay! It was just so addictive! I am constantly searching for girly books that are not empty shells of fluff (I realize that analogy makes very little sense). And I may have immediately gone out and bought her previous book...

2) 8 MORE DAYS (hopefully less for me) - I may never have hyped a book up more in my life but based on the reviews, it won't matter and I will adore it anyway.

3) Crazy Rich Asians was so much fun (when I get around to writing another review I may be wreaking even more havoc on your TBR!)


Leanne (Also, do you think we use brackets enough?)


message 4: by Jill (new) - added it

Jill I don't mind you wreaking havoc on my TBR, because you're the only goodreads friend I have who reads these contemporary, often female-driven, more literary than commercial, type novels. It's filling a hole in my reading life.

And: (((((((No. Not enough.)))))))


message 5: by Sabrina (new)

Sabrina I've been meaning to read this ever since that article debunking the value of a diamond engagement ring began circulating the Internet. I definitely will now!


Leanne Jill - in that case...will you pretty please read American Wife or Prep? I love - and feel like you would also really appreciate - Curtis Sittenfeld.

Sabrina - First comment?! I still can't always predict your reading tastes...but if you want to borrow, let me know :)


message 7: by Jill (new) - added it

Jill Ooh! I'm adding Prep because I'm the biggest sucker for a boarding school novel, but why do you think everyone on goodreads hates it? The top reviews for it are vitriolic.


Leanne Jeez, you're right...I didn't realize this one was so polarizing! It's likely because Lee is not the most lovable teenager, and it's not a really fast paced book. But I personally was never bored. And Curtis Sittenfeld is probably my 2nd or 3rd favourite writer ever.

It is possible you could hate it...but so far my recommendation track record to you is pretty good so I guess I could afford a failure (but you did like STICP, which was also very polarizing!)


message 9: by Jill (new) - added it

Jill Yeah, I skimmed the bad reviews and I wasn't exactly scared off by them. I can deal with (actually sorta love) unlikeable characters. I will check it out...eventually!


Leanne Can you please provide a list of the next 10 books you plan to read so I can stalk your reading even further (haha, just kidding. Kind of.)


message 11: by Jill (new) - added it

Jill I wish I could predict 10 books ahead myself!

My only plan right now is: NIGHT FILM


Leanne Fair enough. I can't even talk about Night Film right now because I'm so upset with Amazon for not bringing it to me yet.

We need to get on Rabbit, Run. I've been so lazy all night and have watched 5 hours straight of TV and neglected my reading...


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