The Engagements Paperback – 2 Jan 2014
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A perceptive portrait . . . In Sullivan's easy, unadorned style, The Engagements is a delightful marriage of cultural research and literary entertainment . . . Sullivan handles all the details elegantly, and the situations are surprisingly distinct . . . For all her sharp wit and insight into the agony of failed relationships, Sullivan's no cynic. The novel's final wedding transcends the craziness and the extravagance and the bickering. Against all odds, it represents something genuinely eternal about the love between two people (Ron Charles The Washington Post)
The Engagements is a rollicking, entertaining read and a thought-provoking one too. Several of the characters' voices have stayed in my head, and even days after putting it down I am left with a sturdy, hopeful sense of the fundamental goodwill of people and the abiding power of love . . . [I] am certain it will be one of this summer's big hits (Lindsey Mead Huffington Post)
The Engagements . . . opens in 1947 with ad-agency copywriter Frances Gerety . . . Struggling to find a last-minute tagline for De Beers, she scribbles down 'A Diamond Is Forever' and promptly falls asleep. For Frances, a lifelong bachelorette, it's just marketing - her boss points out that the phrase isn't even grammatically correct. But Engagements' other characters show how much her tossed-off idea came to define diamonds as the ultimate symbol of love and commitment . . . [Sullivan is] a born storyteller. Like its mineral muse, Engagements shines (Leah Greenblatt Entertainment Weekly) --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
A diamond is forever. But forever isn't for everyone . . .See all Product Description
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Top Customer Reviews
So this starts out as a nice deconstruction of advertising as capitalist propaganda, and gently exposes the way in which our personal dreams and fears are shaped by, and given emotional currency through, the needs of big business.
But after hooking us into Frances’ story, this book then wanders off into a series of different tales, widely separated by time and given to us in fragmented sections, all of which failed to hold my interest. All the stories are linked through the idea of marriage whether it’s the breakdown and divorce, or the setting up of a wedding – and they’re all fairly pedestrian (‘Sheila’s parents had loaned them the money for the mould removal. She said they probably didn’t expect to be paid back’ – yawn...).
This is a long book at 460 pages and tends to lack the incision of the opening episode. So there’s a really good idea here, and I liked Frances’ story (a little like Peggy from Mad Men) – but the body of the book is overwhelmingly dull and lacklustre. This could have been a much stronger book with some tight editing and circumspect pruning – at the moment all the good stuff feels muffled beneath a lot of tedium. A book of wasted potential.
I had really high expectations for this book when I started it and I'm pleased to say it met all of them. I liked the many different perspectives on love, and particularly the focus on how little an engagement ring really means. A diamond may last forever, but it's the couple that gives it meaning. Some of these couples do, and some of them don't, but all of them have interesting, engaging stories that emerge believably from Sullivan's pen. As she cycles between characters, she accomplished an amazing feat for me - I liked all of the different eras. I was interested in the outcome of all of the marriages.
I also just liked seeing how different each of the relationships was. One of the couples has been together for years, and it's their son who is having the difficulty with his marriage. Another of the characters has left her husband for a whirlwind engagement, while a third adores his wife but can't afford the diamond he believes she deserves. And one of the characters in Frances Gerety herself, who despite writing such a line, never married. Instead, she remained a "career woman" and remained at Ayer throughout her working life.Read more ›
One of the characters in the novel, Frances Gerety, is based on the real-life Frances Gerety who, working as young copywriter for De Beers in the late 1940s, coined the world-famous slogan, "A Diamond is Forever". During the time of the Great Depression, diamonds weren't popular. In fact, as J. Courtney Sullivan writes in a New York Times article, "How Americans Learned to Love Diamonds", most Americans viewed diamonds as an extravagance which only the richest people could afford. It is quite astonishing to realize the enormous power that marketing has over us and the fact that it was advertising which entrenched the diamond engagement ring in our society. The analysis of this enthralling topic, along with engaging (no pun intended!) characters, has resulted in this readable and very absorbing novel.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Interesting read about how advertising changed what getting engaged means, and also a brief history of paramedics. Great read.Published 10 months ago by Amazon Customer
Didn't particularly love the way it was written, it seemed to drag along at times but I found all the stuff about the origin of the "a diamond is forever" slogan... Read morePublished on 25 July 2014 by Miss H K Smith-Pryor
Well, I actually learned quite a few things from this book on the subjects of diamonds, advertising and paramedics! Read morePublished on 3 July 2014 by Lisa
I was skeptical at first when I bought this, but it really is awesome. The book is set from multiple perspectives and yet all the stories are very realistic and fit into each other... Read morePublished on 27 Jun. 2014 by BubbleBee
No need for crude language to spice it up? well written but predictable with some entertaining moments in an unlikely plot,I. Read morePublished on 2 Jun. 2014 by lizzylou
I loved this book. Beautifully written with interesting intertwining stories about diamonds & why they are so sought after as a symbol of everlasting love. Read morePublished on 3 April 2014 by Morag MacKenzie
I enjoyed Sullivan's "Maine" and this book was just as much pleasure to read.
Overarching the five stories is the link of the diamond ring: made popular from the... Read more
Diamonds: they're forever, they're a girl's best friend, they're nature's rarest gift, but how did they become such a potent cultural symbol - and what exactly do they symbolise? Read morePublished on 27 Jan. 2014 by Rough Diamond
The Engagements is a captivating, delightful novel that invites us into the lives of various characters and spans the years from the 1940s to the present day. Read morePublished on 16 Jan. 2014 by L. H. Healy