Competition: win a copy of J. Courtney Sullivan’s The Engagements and £50 to spend at Vintage Styler

It’s competition time on Under the Vintage Veil, and this really is a special one. Being a bit of a literature fiend, I was blown away when I was asked to run a competition in conjunction with one of my favourite authors and former New York Times writer, J. Courtney Sullivan. In fact, Commencement, by J. Courtney Sullivan, was on the list of Oprah’s five feminist classics to reread!

So when I read The Engagements I was just thrilled to discover that it’s got everything the Under the Vintage Veil bride loves in one luscious literary bundle. Scroll down to find out how you can win a copy for yourself, plus £50 to spend at one of my favourite online bridal accessory shops, Vintage Styler, but first let me tell you all about it!

The Engagements by J. Courtney Sullivan

The Engagements books

1947: Mary Frances Gerety, a young copywriter in an eminent advertising agency, has to convince the world of two things – that marriage means a diamond ring on every woman’s finger, and that she is as good at her job as any man. And then, in one moment of brilliant inspiration, Mary Frances writes down four words which will achieve both her aims . . .

Moving from a Harvard swim-meet in 1927 to the three-martini lunches of 1940s advertising, from the back streets of 1980s Boston to an exquisite Parisian music shop in 2003, The Engagements is a novel about love, marriage, commitment and betrayal; it is as sharp,  as fiery and as beautiful as the stone we have taken to represent our dreams.

My take on The Engagements

The Engagements boasts J. Courtney Sullivan’s signature brand of accessible feminism, with its strong female characters and the way that they relate to the men in their lives. I really love that it tells the true story of the copywriter Mary Frances Gerety, unsung in history as the woman who coined the slogan “a diamond is forever”. While I’m sure there were elements of fiction (this isn’t a biography), one of the things I love the most about The Engagements is that it tells a beautifully sensitive tale of an overlooked, talented female writer.

This is definitely a novel for vintage lovers. Vintage purists won’t be able to find fault with it, the research and detail that has gone into the scenes from different decades is just unparalleled. It is what I’d call historical fiction at its best, you really feel that the author has lived through the decades she described. So often when I read a book with content that the author couldn’t have experienced (because they weren’t alive yet), it feels overly researched and jarring, like the author is trying to prove their credentials by choosing to explain, rather than illustrate, and reading more like a textbook than fiction. This couldn’t have been further from the way that The Engagements was written, J. Courtney Sullivan crash lands her readers into different eras with such ease and skill that I genuinely felt transported back in time.

For the headstrong Under the Vintage Veil reader, there are so many different ways to relate to the women in this novel. From the woman who doesn’t believe in marriage (there are plenty who read this blog, funnily enough, and we love them just as much as our brides) to the woman fighting for marriage equality to the woman who simply marries a lacklustre man who treats her well but won’t set her world alight. J. Courtney Sullivan masterfully immerses us in each character’s world, so no matter what their flaws and foibles, we can’t help but fall in love with and forgive them.

I won’t ruin the ending for you all, but let me say it’s definitely worth reading for that “ahhhhhh” moment when everything comes together and you realise the commonality between characters that are seemingly detached from one another!

If I were to sum it up, I would call this novel intelligent, seamless and full of heart, with a healthy dose of cynicism. A fabulous read for the Under the Vintage Veil girl!

Delphine headpiece (veil not inc)_£85_SilverSixpenceInHerShoe at

This is the Delphine Headpiece from Silver Sixpence in Her Shoe at Vintage Styler. Image © Katy Lunsford Photography. Very appropriate as one of the characters in The Engagements is named Delphine!

Win a copy of The Engagements plus £50 to spend at Vintage Styler

To celebrate today’s publication of The Engagements, we’re giving away five free copies of the book, plus £50 to spend at online treasure trove of vintage and vintage inspired wedding accessories, Vintage Styler for one very special reader. What do you have to do to win?

It’s very simple! Email us a picture of yourself with someone you can’t live without. This could be your other half, a beloved pet, your sister, your best friend, anyone who means the world to you. The catch? The picture has to be one that sums up your relationship with that person! You have until midnight on Thursday, July 11th, to send us your entries.

Email your entries to with the email header “{person’s name} is forever because {give us your reason and how it relates to your photo}”.

The most interesting entries will be judged by marketing team at Little, Brown Book Group and put up in a gallery on our site and on The Engagements blog, so please make sure you have permission to use the photo before you send it! One lucky winner will receive a £50 Vintage Styler voucher and a copy of The Engagements. Four runners up will also receive copies of the book!

Get snapping and good luck! 

Terms and conditions

The voucher

This prize draw is for one person to win a £50 gift voucher at Vintage Styler. The voucher is not applicable to made to order pieces and must be used within 6 months. No cash alternative will be provided.

The book

This prize draw is for five people to each win one copy of The Engagements by J. Courtney Sullivan. 

Your data

The winner may see their name posted on the Little, Brown Book Group website and possibly other websites and Twitter accounts. A selection of images will be used on Under the Vintage Veil and on The Engagements blog, so please ensure that you own the copyright to the picture or have permission from the copyright holder. Your email address will be used if you are a winner. You may also receive special offers from Vintage Styler and the Hachette group of companies. If you do not wish to receive any communications from companies associated with this prize draw, please write “opt out” in the subject header at the top of your entry email. 

The rest

The winner will be chosen by the marketing team at Little, Brown Book Group. The team’s decision is final. There is no purchase necessary to enter. The prize draw opens at 9am on Thursday the 4th of July 2013 and closes at midnight GMT on Thursday 11th July. Any entries received outside these specified times and dates will not be eligible for entry into the competition. The prize draw is open to UK residents aged 16 or over except employees of Little, Brown Book Group, Under the Vintage Veil, Vintage Styler, their families, or anyone professionally connected to the competition either themselves or through their families. Only one entry per person allowed. Second or subsequent entries will be disqualified. Entries will not be accepted via agents, third parties or in bulk. Little, Brown Book Group and Under the Vintage Veil are not responsible for contacting or forwarding prizes to entrants who provide unclear or incomplete information or for entries lost, misdirected, delayed or destroyed. Little, Brown Book Group reserves the right to alter the prizes or cancel the prize draw without notice.  No cash alternatives to prizes will be provided.

The winners will be contacted by email within one week of the closing date. By entering the competition each entrant agrees to be bound by these terms and conditions.

This competition is organised by Little, Brown Book Group. 100 Victoria Embankment, London EC4Y 0DY in conjunction with Under the Vintage Veil and Vintage Styler.

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