Press for The Engagements

Time Magazine names J. Courtney Sullivan one of 21 women writers you should be reading

The Engagements has been chosen as one of People Magazine’s Top Ten Books of 2013 and a Best Book of the Year by The Irish Times.

The Engagements will be published in 18 countries worldwide, translated into 17 languages.

Film rights have been sold to Reese Witherspoon and Fox 2000.

“[Sullivan is] a born storyteller. Like its mineral muse, Engagements shines.” —Entertainment Weekly

“Sullivan takes the cake when it comes to tying the knot.” —The Chicago Tribune, Editor’s Choice

“Dazzling. . . . An exhilarating, compulsive read. Sullivan fully inhabits her characters, whether she’s writing about a blue-collar Massachusetts emergency worker or a patrician elderly woman. ”BookPage

The Engagements is a rollicking, entertaining read and a thought-provoking one too.” —The Huffington Post

“A seamless tapestry . . . Sullivan is a keen observer of people and how they morph over time, either being softened by the years or made more brittle by strife.” —Bookreporter

“Any one of the five stories of The Engagements could have been a novel in itself. Taken together, though, they rather brilliantly represent different facets of marriage…. Captivating.” —The Minneapolis Star Tribune

The Engagements is a delightful marriage of cultural research and literary entertainment.” —The Washington Post

Well-crafted. . . . Sullivan’s admiration and affection for Gerety, and sensitivity to the challenges she faced, make for entertaining and touching passages.” —USA Today

“Sullivan pulls off the difficult task of creating distinctive voices for characters spread across the past sixty years.” —The Wall Street Journal

“An honest interpretation of the American marriage along with the true story of how the diamond ring has become so deeply integrated into society. . . . May change your mind about wanting a diamond ring after all.” —The Tampa Bay Times

“[Sullivan] threads her story with the glitter of diamonds. . . . A tale that sweeps across varied emotional landscapes.” —Daily News  

 “An entertaining read of emotional maturity.” —The Guardian (London)

“My absolute favourite book this year is The Engagements. A book about love and life and how people change over time, it moves between five separate stories, from a worn-out paramedic in 1980s Boston to a privileged French woman who follows her lover to New York.” –The Irish Times

“Sullivan has written an intricate, beautifully timed novel, so delicious in its gradual unfolding that readers will want to reread it immediately to enjoy the fully realized ties.” —Library Journal

“The best-selling author of Commencement and Maine has written her most ambitious novel yet.” –Entertainment Weekly

“Is a diamond really forever? So Sullivan asks in her third novel . . . elegant, assured,
often moving and with a gentle moral lesson to boot.”
—Kirkus (starred review)

“Sullivan riffs on the fragile state of marriage through a clever series of loosely connected vignettes. At the heart of each episode lies that sparkly symbol of romantic commitments . . . given a sharp and crystalline coherence by virtue of Sullivan’s sometimes bold, sometimes nuanced improvisation on the resonance of the diamond engagement ring.”

Courtney’s summer travel diary in Vogue

Press for Maine


Maine is a Time Magazine Best Book of the Year and a 2011 Washington Post Notable Book.

The Washington Post: “Like Elizabeth Strout’s conflicted junior high teacher, Olive Kitteridge, [the Kellehers] are appealing partly because of their oh-so-­human shortcomings…I enjoyed every page of this ruthless and tender novel about the way love can sometimes redeem even the most contentious families. Like all first-rate comic fiction, Maine uses humor to examine the truths of the heart, in New England and far beyond.” (6.20.11)

New York Times Book Review: “Sullivan beautifully channels Alice through her memories…The dialogue sizzles as the tension between the women’s love and anger toward one another tightens…You don’t want the novel to end.” (6.12.11)

The ‘Maine’ Event: A New Book From Sullivan and It’s the Must Read This Summer (New York Post, 6.5.11)

Chicago Tribune Editor’s Choice: “Attentive to class distinctions and hierarchies, as well as historic pressures and family dynamics, Sullivan presents women who may be stubborn and difficult, but she does so with such compassion and humor that we, too, end up rooting for them.” (7.1.11)

Marie Claire: This Summer’s Hottest Page Turner “Sullivan’s smarts shed light on topics all families deal with, but her tasteful approach on the tough ones (particularly modern-day religious issues) shine through. The cast of quirky characters will have you laughing out loud and aching for their regrets in the same chapter, pining for more pages when it comes to an end.” (June 2011)

Maine is a Today Show Summer Reads Pick! “With her sophomore effort, Sullivan turns from friendships to family, writing with the same warmth and nuance as Commencement, but pushing her characters farther, creating an even more complex and satisfying whole in Maine.” “Sullivan has a way of making you feel deep sympathy for the most deeply unlikeable of her characters. She has a way of showing you their humanity even when no one else around them can see it.”

New York Times Sunday Routine: For J. Courtney Sullivan, Sunday is a Workday 5.29.11

“I have never stayed at this cottage in Maine, or any cottage in Maine, but no matter: I now feel I know what it’s like being in a family that comes to the same place summer after summer, unpacking their familiar longings, slights, shorthand conversation, and ways of being together. J. Courtney Sullivan’s Maine is evocative, funny, close-quartered, and highly appealing.”
–Meg Wolitzer, author of The Ten Year Nap and The Uncoupling

“Maine is a powerful novel about the ties that bind families tight, no matter how dysfunctional. Sullivan has created in the Kelleher women a cast of flawed but lovable characters so real, with their shared history of guilt and heartache and secret resentments, that I’m sure I’ll be thinking about them for a long time to come.”
–Amy Greene, author of Bloodroot

Sullivan’s follow-up to Commencement (2009) introduces, as it did, four female characters, this time bound by the serpentine tangle of family. At the beginning of summer, three generations of Kelleher women descend on the family’s beach home in Maine, as they have for half a century already. Changing point-of-view from one to another of the four protagonists, Sullivan creates deeply observed and believable, if not altogether sympathetic, characters, and as much is learned about one woman through the eyes of the three others as from her own perspective. Moody matriarch Alice, her uninvolved hippie daughter Kathleen, brown-nosing daughter-in-law Ann Marie, and newly-single, thirtysomething granddaughter Maggie each has a simmering-below-the surface inner-monologue that lights a spark, and Sullivan makes sure we can only anticipate an explosion. Sullivan gracefully meets the challenge of crafting a cast clearly pulled from the same DNA soup, without a clunk or hitch in the machinery. Expect interest from book clubs and fans of its popular predecessor.
—Annie Bostrom, Booklist

“Everyone has dark secrets. It’s why God invented confession and booze, two balms frequently employed in Sullivan’s well-wrought sophomore effort. Alice Brennan is Irish American through and through, the daughter of a cop, a good Catholic girl so outwardly pure that she’s a candidate for the papacy. . . . As Sullivan’s tale unfolds, there are plenty of reasons that Alice might wish to avoid taking too close a look at her life: There’s tragedy and heartbreak around every corner, as there is in every life. . . . Sullivan spins a leisurely yarn that looks into why people do the things they do—particularly when it comes to drinking and churchgoing—and why the best-laid plans are always the ones the devil monkeys with the most thoroughly. The story will be particularly meaningful to Catholic women, though there are no barriers to entry for those who are not of that faith. Mature, thoughtful, even meditative at times—but also quite entertaining.”

“At the heart of this compelling novel of three generations of women emotionally stunted by fate and willful stubbornness is the family vacation property in Cape Neddick, ME, where the Kellehers have convened for six decades. . . . In her second novel (after Commencement), Sullivan brilliantly lays out the case for the nearly futile task of these three generations of badly damaged Irish Catholic women seeking acceptance from one another.”
Library Journal

“In Maine, Sullivan explores with grace, depth and good humor what it means to belong to an Irish-American family.”Irish America magazine

Press from the UK release of Maine

Interview with The Independent: “Courtney Sullivan: My Family and Other Social Animals”

‘This big, fat, family saga is a funny, touching, beautifully written triumph. It pulls together three generations of women, over a month in a Maine holiday compound… All the differences and similarities in what sustains and restrains women’s lives are subtly reflected in a story that it utterly involving. Hand of heart, I didn’t want it to end.’ Psychologies

‘If you’re a fan of quintessentially American novels like Curtis Sittenfeld’s American Wife, you’ll adore this cross-generational tale of the Kellehers. It’s a study of relationships, emotional baggage, and sibling rivalry, set on the Maine coast, with characters who feel like family. This is one read you’ll be blocking out your diary to finish.’ Glamour

‘Don’t miss Maine, a stunning novel about the frayed ties between three generations of women from a dysfunctional Irish-American Catholic family. Painful secrets, old wounds and rivalries are brought vividly to life by Courtney Sullivan.’ Good Housekeeping

‘Four women – three generations of the Kelleher family – descend on their  summer beach retreat, bringing guilt, secrets and old wounds that spill over as tempers fray. Thoughtful, witty and totally compulsive reading.’ Woman & Home

‘Whether you’re in need of a winter-sun beach read or looking for a festival fireside book, Courtney Sullivan’s Maine – a novel revolving around the Kelleher clan’s holiday homes and the secrets surrounding three generations of women – is just the thing.’ Grazia

‘Sobriety and drunkenness, parenting styles, love and loss are dissected, rallied against and reconciled in this wise and sad tale of families and their follies.’ Marie Claire

Press for Commencement

J. Courtney Sullivan: By the Book (New York Times, August 2, 2012)

Janet Maslin reviews Commencement in the New York Times, calling it, “one of this year’s most inviting summer novels.”

Entertainment Weekly says ”the author manages to find that sweet spot between Serious Literature and chick lit. Commencement is a beach book for smart women — and the girls they once were.”

Telling Women’s Stories (The Boston Globe, 6.20.09)

People Magazine says “Four friends bond at Smith College and stumble toward adulthood in Sullivan’s intelligent, diverting debut.” (6.29.09)

Commencement is a Chicago Tribune Editor’s Choice: “Sullivan is a keen observer, with a wry sense of humor, and the book glides along like a “Sex and the City” episode — with more Gloria Steinem than Jimmy Choo.” (8.8.09)

New York Times Sunday Book Review, 6.14.09 “Sullivan’s gifts are substantial.”

Commencement wins the July Elle Magazine Readers’ Prize

Cookie Magazine says, “This story about four Smith College students and the paths they follow post-graduation celebrates friendship and explores modern-day feminism. At the same time, it’s just a really devourable read–think a 2009 version of Mary McCarthy’s The Group.” Paper Cuts Author Q&A (6.12.09)

Courtney on WBUR’s Here and Now With Robin Young (8.10.81)

Redbook names Commencement one of the season’s hottest beach reads (June 2009)

Two Hot Books (New York Times, op-ed columnist Nick Kristof, 3.13.09) review by Courtney E. Martin

Author interview on Flavorwire (6.16.09)

Daily Candy review (6.16.09)

The Frisky review (6.16.09)

Telling Tales out of School (The Metro, 6.23.09)

One Young Writer’s Commencement by Emma Shakarshy (Girls Write Now Blog, 8.6.09)

Novel By Alum Chronicles The Smith Life (Smith College Sophian, 3.12.09)

Sapphic Saga (The New York Post, Page Six, 1.25.09)