Book Review: The Engagements by J. Courtney Sullivan

the-engagements-largeEvelyn 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 seen both sides of love—the ecstatic, glorious highs of seduction, and the bitter, spiteful fury that descends when it’s over. James, a paramedic who works the night shift, knows his wife’s family thinks she could have done better; while Kate, partnered with Dan for a decade, has seen every kind of wedding—beach weddings, backyard weddings, castle weddings—and has vowed never, ever, to have one of her own.

As these lives and marriages unfold in surprising ways, we meet Frances Gerety, a young advertising copywriter in 1947. Frances is working on the De Beers campaign and she needs a signature line, so, one night before bed, she scribbles a phrase on a scrap of paper: “A Diamond Is Forever.” And that line changes everything.

What I thought:
I actually read The Engagements a while ago, but have been in a quandary ever since about what exactly to write about it. It’s not that it’s a bad book, far from it, it’s very well written and some elements of the story are engaging (pardon the pun). I guess my main issue come down to one of character – in that I found the greater proportion of the characters to be inherently unlikeable and, I plain wanted to throw things at Kate’s (main character of the modern-day section) head!

The best parts of the book were the ones about Frances Gerety and her invention of the now-famous De Beers slogan, but I found I simply didn’t care about the one diamond’s journey through the hands of the other main characters. If anything, I would have cut the portions about the marriages and couples and enjoyed a book about Frances and her journey through the male-dominated world of 1940s advertising.

I did see recently that Reese Witherspoon and Fox 2000 purchased the movie rights for the book, but I can’t see how it would make a worthwhile film at all.

I hate to slag off any book, but on this occasion, it’s just one I didn’t take to.

Note: I was given a copy of this book by the publisher in exchange for a review, but all opinions are my own.

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