- Opening line: "Frances poured the last bitter remains of the coffeepot into her cup."
- Reason I picked up the book: We chose to read this book for my book club recently, but I had a hand in choosing it - I've read Maine and also Commencement by J. Courtney Sullivan, and enjoyed both.
- And what's this book about? From the New York Times best-selling author of Commencement and Maine comes a gorgeous, sprawling novel about marriage—about those who marry in a white heat of passion, those who marry for partnership and comfort, and those who live together, love each other, and have absolutely no intention of ruining it all with a wedding.
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 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.
A rich, layered, exhilarating novel spanning nearly a hundred years, The Engagements captures four wholly unique marriages, while tracing the story of diamonds in America, and the way—for better or for worse—these glittering stones have come to symbolize our deepest hopes for everlasting love.
- Favorite paragraph:
Frances ran a finger over one of her new honeymoon ads. Other women never seemed to think about what came next. They were so eager to be paired up, as if marriage was known to be full of splendor. Frances was the opposite; she could never stop thinking about it. She might go to dinner or out dancing with someone new, and have a fine time. But when she got home and climbed into bed afterward, her heart would race with fear. If she went out with him again, then they might go out again after that. Eventually, she would have to take him home to be evaluated by her parents, and vice versa. Then he would propose. And she, like all the other working girls who had married before her, would simply disappear into a life of motherhood and isolation.
- Recommended for: Anyone who likes a good story.
- Something to know: The book is fiction EXCEPT for Frances Gerety's parts - the events have been taken liberties with by the author, but they all occurred in real life.
- What I would have changed: Nothing! This was a fantastic book. There's five stories in total, and four of them interconnect; at the beginning of the novel, I was thinking the author should have put each of the stories together, but then they connect in a surprising and genius way near the end of the novel - so have patience.
- Overall rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars.