“The Engagements” by J. Courtney Sullivan is a novel about people and diamonds set in five different time periods between 1947 and 2012. Five different voices – those of fictional historical figure Frances Gerety and of four different marriages – trace the story of diamonds, specifically engagement ring diamonds in America.
Frances Gerety, is an advertising copywriter for N.W. Ayer & Sons, working on the De Beers account. De Beers monopolized the diamond industry during the Great Depression, but sales were weak. The slogan coined by Frances Gerety, “A Diamond is Forever,” revived De Beers’s sales and became the best known and most successful slogan of the century.
The novel tells about the four couples intertwined in an unusual way and how a diamond ring was an important part of each of their stories. Evelyn is upper class and has been happily married for 40 years to Gerald. She wears a lovely ring, but it is her first wedding ring that hangs on a chain over her heart. Delphine is French and married to an older man, Henri, and struggles with marital infidelity. She misses the passion that other people talk about who claim to know love.
James is a paramedic in Cambridge. He loves his wife, Sheila, and his sons and wishes he could do more for them. When James in introduced, his wife has just been mugged and robbed of the small diamond he bought her when they were engaged. He so wishes he could replace it, or even buy her a larger one.
Kate is not married and never intends to be, resisting the very idea of marriage. She is happy with her mate, Don, and their young daughter. She does not need all the trappings, especially not a diamond ring.
“The Engagements” looks at marriage from every angle as the author explores love and the symbol of romantic commitment through the five different characters and time periods. The information on diamonds and the world of advertising has been carefully researched.