Having enjoyed her book about body hair and having recently gotten engaged myself, I was curious to read Mara Altman’s book about her engagement, or more accurately, her engagement ring.
Having never seen herself as the marriage or wedding obsessed type, Altman examines her own conflicting feelings about the rock on her finger. As a modern day woman she worries that it’s a sign of ownership, or her fiancé marking his territory. The ring being a “back off” sign to other men.
And what of the size of the rock? Does that matter? Is the value of the rock indicative of the man’s commitment? Or his love? (To me, clearly not)
Being the worrying, obsessive type this kickstarts the book, as Altman explores her own feelings, the diamond industry and the history of rings as a tradition (engagement rings are long standing but the involvement of diamonds is a 20th century invention, by diamond companies)
She interviews various experts, but the involving part of the book is the personal stuff. Altman wrestles with her own fears about conformity, her future and Anger at how much the ring she never thought she needed preys on her. It’s a fantastically frank and open examination of her doubts, fears and insecurity, peppered with a good sense of humour.
Altman is likable and engaging, her only flaw is being prone to over thinking things, but this is what makes her a good writer, she delves into her feelings to produce a wonderful book.
I learnt a lot about diamonds and engagement rings, but what I took was the sweet relationship between Altman and her fiancé, and a fresh insight into the way marketing and social norms effect us more than we know. And the differing views on rings, with some folks getting far too caught up in size or price, as if these two things can show how strong a love or commitment a couple shares.
Verdict: An interesting and entertaining quickread, as Altman uses her jumping off point to explore different themes is a concise, involving manner. She has intelligence and wit as a writer and I devoured this in one sitting. 8/10.
Any thoughts? You know what to do. BETEO.