Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Julie's Review: The Engagements

Summary: Evelyn 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 knows 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. Kate, partnered with Dan for ten years, has seen every kind of wedding--from the Nantucket beach wedding to the Irish castle wedding--and has vowed never, ever, to have one of her own. And Mary Frances Gerety, a young advertising copywriter, knows exactly what marriage is: it's a diamond ring on a girl's finger--and it's her job to make sure everyone believes that. Weaving these lives together, Sullivan gives us a sharply observed, witty, irresistible portrait of the thorny, joyful, and complicated union that is marriage.

Review: The Engagements is a wonderfully executed novel where stories that seem non-related end up being tied together in the end. It was a brilliant way to end a superb novel. I wasn't sure what to expect when I picked up this novel, was it the novel of one diamond/one ring that was passed on through generations? Or was it something else completely? Turns out it is the 2nd one. Each of these stories are intertwined but how isn't known until the middle of the book and then the end.

Ms. Sullivan knows how to hold your attention throughout the novel. It is divided into 4 parts, with each of the 4 stories continuing in the parts. There were stories I enjoyed much more than others but like any book there are characters you like or don't like. There are people you identify with and those you want to place a boot in their butt. It is a story of business that turns into a story of traditions.

Ms. Sullivan piques your curiosity with introducing us first to Frances Gerety, the woman behind the copy writing of diamond ads for De Beers. I found this fascinating. There was a lot I didn't know about the history of the diamond engagement ring (DER, for short). I won't ruin it if you don't know, just read the book. I found Frances' story to be the most intriguing of them all. I loved how she approached her job and her life. I loved that she didn't have any apologies.

Kate was a diabolical character for me. I appreciate people who are passionate about what they believe in but it annoys me when they try to push those beliefs on others. Kate was a cynic. Instead of looking at what is good in the world, she looks at everything that is bad/wrong. Even though she loved her partner Dan and their daughter, Ava, I thought she had no true joy in her life. She wanted everyone to believe what she believed. I thought she had no respect for how others lived their lives but wanted everyone to respect how she lived hers.

I loved the story of Evie and her husband Gerald. I loved how she dealt with his crazy sweepstakes obsession and how he always made her laugh. Even when Evie didn't think there was anything to laugh about.

Ms. Sullivan has a gem of a book on her hands here and it is the perfect summer read. I plan on reading her other novels as well since a lot of people rave about them.

Final Take: 4.5/5



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