The Engagements, by J. Courtney Sullivan, was an intriguing book. Tackling the world of advertising, and diamonds, and engagements all in one novel seems a heavy task but Sullivan took it on. For the most part she succeeded, although not all of it worked for me.
The story is told in five different pieces. First is the advertising world which created the demand for diamonds, specifically the demand for diamond engagement rings. This is the story that most intrigued me, as it pulled from true facts to create a fascinating look at the world of advertising through the 20th century. This story is the backbone of the book, reappearing to remind the reader of why we are involved. The four other pieces are four distinct stories around relationships. This is where the book didn’t quite work for me. While at the end the stories made sense and I was satisfied with the conclusion, the telling and interrupting of each story left me frustrated as a reader. I didn’t like jumping out of one story and into another, and then five chapters later coming back to the first story and needing to remember where we were in the storyline. A couple of the stories were easier to follow as well, leaving the more complicated stories to fall flat.
The book is well-written and the author committed to each story line, creating believable characters and plot. A lot of work and thought went in to it, but in the end I wasn’t sold as a reader that this was the best way to get the story of the diamond across.
I see that the movie rights to the book have been purchased, and I can understand why. In this case it may lose some of the history I enjoyed but having it on the big screen may make the story lines easier to follow. I would see it if it ever came to the screen, just to see how the story is handled.