J. Courtney Sullivan leaps from ‘The Engagements’ to her wedding

June 12, 2013
(Knopf) (Knopf)

Consider J. Courtney Sullivan fully engaged this month.

On Tuesday, she published her third novel, “The Engagements.” (Review here.) It’s a thoroughly entertaining story wrapped around the work of Frances Gerety, the advertising writer who came up with the line, “A diamond is forever.”

And next weekend, Sullivan ties the knot with her fiance in Kennebunkport, Maine.

“Having never planned a wedding before,” she says via e-mail, “I believed that having a book come out within two weeks of the big day would be no problem whatsoever. My editor, my mother and everyone else told me this was a bad idea, and I thought they were being silly. Hindsight!”

But my sympathies are with her fiance, Kevin Johannesen, from Des Moines, Iowa. What must it have been like to pick out an engagement ring for an author who knows everything about diamond engagement rings?

J. Courtney Sullivan shows off her engagement ring -- a sapphire, naturally. (Photo credit: J. Courtney Sullivan) J. Courtney Sullivan shows off her engagement ring — a sapphire, naturally. (Photo credit: J. Courtney Sullivan)

Thank God he went with a sapphire!

“I had an idea what my ring would look like, but the proposal was a surprise,” Sullivan says. “He hid the ring in my beautiful antique campaign desk (which he gave me as a gift when I quit my day job as a researcher at the New York Times to write novels full time.) Kevin got down on one knee and said some lovely things. Our dog, Landon, barked at us the entire time. Kevin claimed Landon was cheering him on, while I accused the dog of trying to steal my thunder.”

Sullivan’s thunder continues Wednesday night at her book party in Brooklyn. Frances Gerety died in 1999, but several of her former co-workers — sources for Sullivan’s novel — will be there. That has a nice ring to it.


Ron Charles is the editor of The Washington Post's Book World. For a dozen years, he enjoyed teaching American literature and critical theory in the Midwest, but finally switched to journalism when he realized that if he graded one more paper, he'd go crazy.
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