Part women’s fiction, part historical fiction, The Engagements is one of those novels that spans decades and covers the lives of five seemingly unconnected people.
At the center of the novel is Mary Frances Gerety. She was a real person and is known for the famous advertising phrase “A Diamond is Forever” which she wrote in 1947 while working for an advertising agency that handled the DeBeers account. This is the part where there is a lot of history about the diamond industry and how the engagement ring came to be.
Now, mix in Evelyn, a well-to-do mother and grandmother very much in love with her second husband and openly still in love with her first. Next, a young Parisian woman named Delphine who is certainly not in love with her husbands and falls for a young violinist. She leaves the only life she has ever known and travels to New York City to be with him, only to have it all go very wrong after they become engaged. And then there is Kate, very much a liberal activist who does not believe in marriage at all, and is against anything or anyone who deals with “blood diamonds”. And finally there is James, a young husband and father who is on the down and out and struggling to keep his family together and happy even though the debts are piling up. He would do almost anything to give his wife a beautiful diamond, no matter what the consequences.
Sounds like a lot, but this author manages to weave all these stories together perfectly. And the information about how the diamond and advertising businesses work is fascinating.
Read-alike author: Elin Hilderbrand, because of her strong female characters.