Friday, July 12, 2013

The Engagements - Book Review

17 years ago today, Utah Dad proposed to me. We were sitting together beside the fire pit in my parents' back yard. We had about five minutes before my younger brothers and sisters joined us. He didn't have a ring. It was spontaneous. After all, we had only known each other for two weeks.

(picture taken shortly after our engagement, circa 1996)

When we went a few weeks later to buy a ring, I was flabbergasted by the prices. At the time, I thought of everything as the price of tuition. I could go to college for years on the price of those rings! I was sure that I didn't need a ring. We left the jewelry store empty handed. When my mother-in-law heard our plan, she insisted that I did need a ring. I had to have a ring! I ended up with a beautiful diamond ring on my finger. It had a delicate gold band with a round diamond and four smaller marquise-cut diamonds as "leaves" around it (very 1990's).

Even though I was positive that I didn't "need" a diamond ring, I remember distinctly sitting in the temple before my wedding and admiring the way the light reflected from the stunning diamond. I wore it every day for the first few years of our marriage. After all, we were still students at BYU and the ring was an important symbol that you were "taken".

About two years after we were married, I was tired of snagging the diamond on everything. I took it off; put it in the jewelry box it came in and I haven't worn it since. Now, I just wear a tiny gold band to symbolize my marriage to Utah Dad.

So, it's perfect timing that I'm reviewing The Engagements by J. Courtney Sullivan on the anniversary of my own engagement.

Focusing on the relationships and marriages of several characters in The Engagements, Sullivan writes a novel about how marriage has evolved in our society throughout the years and ties it in with the history of the diamond as a symbol of love and marriage.

I found the story and information about Frances Gerety who created the famous line "A Diamond is Forever" and the advertising campaign that convinced a nation that the diamond ring was necessary very intriguing. The history of the diamond is also drenched in the bloody and horrific things that happen in the diamond mines of Africa (the book The Fever Tree goes into this a little) yet through the genius of advertising still symbolizes love. Sullivan weaves the research and facts in with the tales of of her characters and their marriages.

The Engagements seemed to have a pretty cynical view of marriage. Since I believe in the sanctity of marriage, I thought the book was very depressing at times. However, the writing is strong and the character development drew me in. I especially liked some of the characters and found myself genuinely caring about them. By the end of the novel, the stories had come together nicely and I was mostly satisfied.

There is some swearing in the book and brief sexual scenes.

**I received a complimentary copy of The Engagements in exchange for my honest review.**


Lauren W said...

Sounds like a good book! Thanks for sharing. I love the old picture of you two!

Anita said...

Love the picture, and I'm looking forward to reading this book soon...who knows maybe in August!