Vivian's Reviews > The Engagements

The Engagements by J. Courtney Sullivan
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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 every choice a character makes. For example: a former schoolteacher mentioning to an ex-colleague that teenagers today (early 1970s) seem to have a harder time than teenagers in the past does NOT require the author to describe the complete detailed list of "ways to tell if your child is becoming a hippie," as given to parents of that time. A small anecdote would do. Or another character explaining (or complaining) of all (and I do mean ALL) the ways New York can't possibly measure up to Paris, at least to a Parisian. One or two choice culture-shocks would have told the reader more than 10 pages of rants by the character, which do not in any way advance the story. The facts may be accurate, but that doesn't mean they add anything to the narrative.

I don't mind historical facts in a novel; I think, done well, they can add greatly to the ambiance of the story. But the facts have to pertain to the story in some way, not just serve as filler, which seems to be the case here. A good editor could have gotten this novel down to half of its 400 pages, and I think I would have enjoyed it so much more. As it is, I had to plow through the author's fact-dumping to get to the actual stories, which I did enjoy when I could find them.
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Quotes Vivian Liked

J. Courtney Sullivan
“You want your kids to do better than you did," he said. "That's what the American Dream is all about. But it's hard when they outgrow you. It hurts like hell.”
J. Courtney Sullivan, The Engagements


Reading Progress

Started Reading
July 3, 2013 – Shelved
July 3, 2013 – Finished Reading

Comments Showing 1-4 of 4 (4 new)

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message 1: by Kim (new) - rated it 2 stars

Kim Berkshire You are absolutely right when you say...
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 every choice a character makes.
No kidding! Throughout the book, instead of stating the obvious, ''she did a load of laundry,'' she described asking each family member if they needed any laundry done and how they felt about having their laundry done, then she described going from room to room to gather the laundry, sort the laundry, add the soap, the softener, does she need to use bleach, should she separate the light colds from the dark colds, then she had the agonizing decision of what cycle to use, should she start the load in the most energy efficient time of day, would the end of cycle buzzer disturb the neighbors, until she made the fateful decision to...START the laundry. And don't get me started on the drying cycle..
Just do the damn laundry. (less)


message 2: by Brianna (new)

Brianna Soloski I've only read the introduction where Frances writes he slogan and I was bored. That's less than 20 pages in which doesn't bode well for the rest of the book.


Jessica agreed


message 4: by Gail (new)

Gail Sarasohn I dont understand the high ratings. I am having a hard time finishing it.


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