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The Engagements (Vintage Contemporaries) Paperback – May 20, 2014
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A pioneering, single career woman writes what becomes a legendary slogan for a product she will never use. A husband and wife teeter on the edge of bankruptcy after she is mugged and her most precious piece of jewelry is stolen. A mother despairs over the end of her son’s marriage as she recalls the precarious circumstances of her own. A married French woman becomes engaged to an American musician only to discover him cheating on her with her best friend. An overly practical woman nearly ruins her gay cousin’s wedding. Inspired by the real-life story of Frances Gerety, a 1940s copywriter who penned the “A Diamond Is Forever” tagline for DeBeers, Sullivan riffs on the fragile state of marriage through a clever series of loosely connected vignettes. At the heart of each episode lies that sparkly symbol of romantic commitments, and what could have been a distractingly disjointed narrative style is give a sharp and crystalline coherence by virtue of Sullivan’s sometimes bold, sometimes nuanced improvisation on the resonance of the diamond engagement ring. --Carol Haggas --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.
“Sullivan is a born storyteller. Like its mineral muse, Engagements shines.”
“The Engagements is a delightful marriage of cultural research and literary entertainment.”
—The Washington Post
“Sullivan takes the cake when it comes to tying the knot. . . . A generously populated, multi-generational tale.”
—The Chicago Tribune, Editor’s Choice
“Any one of the five stories of The Engagements could have been a novel in itself. Taken together, though, they rather brilliantly represent different facets of marriage…. Captivating.”
—The Minneapolis Star Tribune
“This is one smart summer read.”
“Well-crafted. . . . Sullivan’s admiration and affection for Gerety, and sensitivity to the challenges she faced, make for entertaining and touching passages.”
“The Engagements is a rollicking, entertaining read and a thought-provoking one too.”
—The Huffington Post
“A fun look at diamond advertising and the people who do—and do not—buy into the hype.”
“Dazzling. . . . An exhilarating, compulsive read. Sullivan fully inhabits her characters, whether she’s writing about a blue-collar Massachusetts emergency worker or a patrician elderly woman.”
“A seamless tapestry . . . Sullivan is a keen observer of people and how they morph over time, either being softened by the years or made more brittle by strife.”
“Satisfying. . . . At each stage of the game, the engagement ring has a different meaning.”
—Janet Maslin, The New York Times
“Sullivan has written an intricate, beautifully timed novel, so delicious in its gradual unfolding that readers will want to reread it immediately to enjoy the fully realized ties.”
“An honest interpretation of the American marriage along with the true story of how the diamond ring has become so deeply integrated into society.”
—The Tampa Bay Times
“[Sullivan] threads her story with the glitter of diamonds. . . . A tale that sweeps across varied emotional landscapes.”
“An entertaining read of emotional maturity.”
—The Guardian (London)
“Sullivan pulls off the difficult task of creating distinctive voices for characters spread across the past sixty years.”
—The Wall Street Journal
“A modern update of The Spoils of Poynton; elegant, assured, often moving and with a gentle moral lesson to boot.”
—Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
“At the heart of each episode lies that sparkly symbol of romantic commitments . . . given a sharp and crystalline coherence by virtue of Sullivan’s sometimes bold, sometimes nuanced improvisation on the resonance of the diamond engagement ring.”
Top customer reviews
I also love a book that involves the lives of several different characters and flashbacks in their lives that give you a complete idea of where these people came from and why their families are where they are today,due to their histories.
Combine these two components while you travel along with one diamond throughout the decades and you have a fascinating novel.
It gives the modern day bride-to-be a look into the future where they will see that marriage is a challenge and as much as we would like to think that they all end happily ever after,that necessarily won't always be the case.After all a diamond is forever but in the case of half the marriages today that isn't necessarily true.
Finally, I love the comparison of one woman's struggle throughout her entire lifetime to become recognized for her work as an individual,to the of the institution of marriage and how it has dramatically changed throughout the years." You've come a long way baby" but so has the institution of marriage!
I liked a lot about this book. I had a particular soft spot for Delphine, though I enjoyed all of the characters. It was a little hard to remember who everyone was at times, but I think that's more a function of the fact that I read before bed and my tired brain doesn't have the greatest recall ability.
Generally speaking, it was very evident that this is one of Sullivan's books: get style of describing women's lives is distinctive. I think Commencement was get most unique book this far; Maine and The Engagements have much in common.
More reviews at: https://www.goodreads.com/parfois
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 is a pioneer of women who don't marry a man because they're already married to their jobs.
We also meet Evelyn, who in 1972 is married to her second husband. She is troubled by their son's crumbling marriage.
In 1987, we meet James, who is one of the first paramedics in Boston. He is trying to make ends meet for his family and it's Christmas.
In 2003, we meet Delphine, a Frenchwoman who followed a much younger lover back to New York.
And finally, in 2012, we meet Kate, who is perfectly happy being in a committed relationship with her man. She worries that allowing her daughter to be the flower girl in her gay cousin's wedding will give her the wrong message about the role of a woman.
And eventually, we learn about the connections between all of them.
What struck me the most was when I learned, at the end of the book, that Mary Frances Gerety was a real woman and she really did come up with the slogan for de Beers. The subject of advertising is examined throughout the book, which I found to be fascinating. It made me realize how much advertising really does affect us. Diamond engagement rings were not popular when Gerety coined that phrase. However, because of that advertising, people now feel as though they can't become engaged without a diamond ring.
Well-written. Highly recommend.
I highly "The Engagements' for pleasure reading and to gain insight into the psychology of advertising and its effects on our 'need' for high end items.