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J. Courtney Sullivan

Author of Maine

10+ Works 4,156 Members 234 Reviews 4 Favorited

About the Author

J. Courtney Sullivan received a B.A. in Victorian literature from Smith College in 2003. She worked for Allure and then moved to The New York Times. Her work has appeared in The New York Times Book Review, The Chicago Tribune, New York, Elle, Glamour, the New York Observer, and Men's Vogue. Her show more first book, Dating Up: Dump the Shlump and Find a Quality Man, was published in 2007. In 2010, she co-edited a feminist essay collection entitled Click: When We Knew We Were Feminists. Her fiction works include Commencement, Maine and The Engagements. (Bowker Author Biography) show less
Image credit: J. Courtney Sullivan

Works by J. Courtney Sullivan

Maine (2011) 1,416 copies
Commencement (2009) 835 copies
Saints for All Occasions (2017) 667 copies
The Engagements (2013) 643 copies
Friends and Strangers (2020) 430 copies
Click: When We Knew We Were Feminists (2010) — Editor — 133 copies
The Cliffs: A Novel (2024) 19 copies
Model Home: A Short Story (2021) 5 copies

Associated Works

Tagged

2011 (24) 2012 (17) 2013 (22) 2014 (18) 2020 (16) adult fiction (18) American (17) audio (16) audiobook (16) Boston (34) chick lit (42) college (29) coming of age (20) contemporary fiction (26) diamonds (19) ebook (31) family (65) family relationships (22) feminism (51) fiction (367) friendship (48) historical fiction (21) immigrants (17) Ireland (25) Kindle (27) literary fiction (17) Maine (53) marriage (29) Massachusetts (21) mothers and daughters (18) non-fiction (21) novel (42) read (34) read in 2011 (22) relationships (34) secrets (17) sisters (20) Smith College (31) to-read (408) women (36)

Common Knowledge

Canonical name
Sullivan, J. Courtney
Legal name
Sullivan, Julie Courtney
Birthdate
1982
Gender
female
Nationality
USA
Places of residence
Brooklyn, New York, USA
Occupations
novelist

Members

Reviews

This was a Goodreads Giveaway - 4.5 Stars. It took me awhile to get around to reading this and I found it instantly engaging once I did finally begin it. This was a well-written, interesting read. I did find the character of Nora to be frustrating but is suited her in a way. I would be interested in reading other books by this author.
 
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Bambean | 33 other reviews | May 20, 2024 |
2024 seems to be the year where I delve deep into my TBR pile. So far, it’s bringing some gems like The Engagements, which centres around diamond rings across nearly one hundred years. Those who had them, those that wanted them and those who discarded them. Tying these seemingly separate couples together is the real-life woman who wrote the tagline for De Beers – a diamond is forever. Or is it?

The story opens with Mary Frances Geraty leaving writing a tagline for the next De Beers ad until almost the last minute. In separate sections across the novel, we follow her career as one of the first female copywriters at an ad agency in Philadelphia through to her retirement, and finally recognition for her contribution to the industry (and a lot of sales for diamonds). This is interspersed with the stories of other couples from the 1920s to 2010s. Evelyn and Gerald, a retired couple, nervously await the arrival of their son for lunch. He’s planning on divorcing his wife, which just isn’t done in the 1970s. Along the way, we find out the unconventional route of their own relationship. In the 1980s, James and Sheila are trying to survive financially in Boston. We follow James through a 24 hour shift as a paramedic, which is surprisingly gritty and confronting. He reflects on his own failures as his house falls down around him and there isn’t enough money to give his family what they want. Jumping to the 2000s, Delphine leaves France, her job and her husband for a whirlwind engagement to a music prodigy. But it doesn’t last, and her plan for revenge is detailed. Finally, Kate’s cousin is marrying his male partner. Kate doesn’t believe in marriage but begrudgingly goes through the leadup. But then she loses one of the groom’s rings…

This novel was more detailed and literary than I’d been led to believe (it had been tagged as romance). Yes, there’s romance but it falls into the background as the characters confront what marriage means, as well as infidelity, divorce and what happens after the fairytale ends. Each time period’s story was fascinating and covered the nuances of that time period well in the writing. It’s also very detailed in every aspect from the cultural references to the backstories of the characters. The backstories make up a lot of the novel, and are just as detailed as the current story for the main characters. It is difficult to tell if the stories were going to link up, but it does come together at the very end.

Not all the characters are likeable. Kate has an opinion that puts a dampener on nearly everything. Others cheat or steal. But all act with the best intentions for themselves and their family, even if it appears misguided or just plain wrong. But it does make them memorable as the story jumps through different time periods. None of the parts of each time period’s story landed on a desperate cliffhanger, which was a nice change. For the most part, the story moves from oldest to newest time period so you do have some idea of when the next instalment is coming. It’s a bit different, but it worked for me.

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birdsam0610 | 36 other reviews | Mar 23, 2024 |
Irish Catholic family drama with focus on the relationship between two sisters. I'm not sure how much you'd appreciate this if you don't come from this family background yourself but for me it all rings quite true.

Zoomed right through it.
 
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hmonkeyreads | 33 other reviews | Jan 25, 2024 |
I was disappointed in this story. I found the structure of the book disjointed and hard to follow at first and most of the characters were terribly unpleasant.

The common thread between the characters is diamonds and I wanted the story to show at least *some* good/happy side to diamond engagement rings and what they mean to people - regardless of the artificial construct for the feelings. I got the exact opposite.

Having loved the authors book Maine, I was let down by this one. I'm torn between 2 and 3. Feeling generous so I give 3.… (more)
 
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hmonkeyreads | 36 other reviews | Jan 25, 2024 |

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Works
10
Also by
1
Members
4,156
Popularity
#6,052
Rating
½ 3.5
Reviews
234
ISBNs
101
Languages
5
Favorited
4

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