Reviewed by Zoe Lea
The Engagements tells the story of five different characters, separated in time, their only connection being that of diamonds and their perception of marriage. It starts with Mary Frances Gerety, a young copywriter working in an advertising agency in 1947 trying to think of a slogan that will convince the readers of one thing – that marriage is only cemented by a diamond ring. Working on her campaign, she writes the timeless four words that haunt the rest of the characters throughout the novel.
We then move to 1972, where Evelyn, a loving wife and grandmother is devastated by her adult son's abandonment of his wife and children. And then to 1987, where James an ambulance driver working a shift over Christmas, feels a failure in his marriage and unable to support his family the way he'd like to. In 2003, Delphine, a Parisian housewife left her dull marriage in France only to find that her new lover has cheated on her. And in 2012, Kate who doesn't believe in marriage must set her feelings aside to celebrate the gay wedding of her beloved cousin.
I found this book a little frustrating in parts, as with most books that have multiple central characters, I fell in love with some and not others and found myself wanting to jump ahead to chapters that contained the characters I liked. However, once I got used to the format, I found each story touching and began to enjoy how the author had weaved the separate stories together to create a compelling novel surrounding the theme of marriage. The book is primarily about relationships, how people relate to each other inside a marriage more than it is about plot or pace, but with that said, as the story-lines tie up toward the end it is a very satisfying read.
J Courtney Sullivan's Website