By J. Courtney Sullivan
Alfred A. Knopf, 383 pages, $26.95
The Engagements opens with Mary Francis Gerrety, the real life copywriter who created the DeBeer’s famous advertising slogan in 1947, “A Diamond is Forever.” From that starting point, Sullivan deftly intertwines four other, seemingly unrelated stories with Gerrety’s, each of which addresses a different perspective on relationships and marriage. Evelyn married her deceased husband’s best friend forty years ago. Delphine is torn between her stable, older husband and the passionate, somewhat mercurial love of her much younger fiancé. James cannot seem to catch a break in life, but wants more for his high school sweetheart and now wife, who others think married beneath her. Kate, who forcefully eschews marriage for herself, her partner and their child, ends up in the middle of the tensions of her gay cousin’s wedding. Of course, Gerrety spends her life creating a need for a ring that she herself will never wear.
Sullivan’s novel is fresh, engaging, and difficult to put down. Furthermore, she masterfully brings this novel to a close in a way that is unexpected, but very satisfying. Simply put, this novel is not to be missed.
Reviewed by Annie Peters