The Divorce Papers: A Novel, Susan Rieger
Published October 28th 2014 by Broadway Books
Paperback, 496 pages
Source: E-ARC from Blogging for Books
Twenty-nine-year-old Sophie Diehl is happy toiling away as a criminal law associate at an old line New England firm where she very much appreciates that most of her clients are behind bars. Everyone at Traynor, Hand knows she abhors face-to-face contact, but one weekend, with all the big partners away, Sophie must handle the intake interview for the daughter of the firm’s most important client. After eighteen years of marriage, Mayflower descendant Mia Meiklejohn Durkheim has just been served divorce papers in a humiliating scene at the popular local restaurant, Golightly’s. She is locked and loaded to fight her eminent and ambitious husband, Dr. Daniel Durkheim, Chief of the Department of Pediatric Oncology, for custody of their ten-year-old daughter Jane–and she also burns to take him down a peg. Sophie warns Mia that she’s never handled a divorce case before, but Mia can’t be put off. As she so disarmingly puts it: It’s her first divorce, too.
As the name suggests this is an epistolary novel made up of interoffice memos, emails, letters and actual court rules and pleadings. I didn’t quite realize that going in-but this completely worked for me. To be fair, I work in a law firm so the court documents were not entirely new to me to read. I do think some readers might find them too dry. I did skim when the documents got too deep into the financials of the divorce or the court filings-but the rest of the book definitely held my attention! So you can enjoy this without going too far into the exhibits do not fear!
I began this book thinking that it was really going to be about Sophie, the fledgling attorney, but I found myself much more invested in Mia and how she’d come out of the divorce. Sophie is the child of divorced parents and wants nothing to do with family law. Mia though sets her sights on Sophie as her attorney and will not give up. We learn about Sophie’s aversion to any divorce case through her emails to her best friend and her interoffice memos to the senior partner guiding her through the case. I liked Sophie-but her confessions to her boss seem to become increasingly inappropriate which probably helped to make Mia my preferred character of this pair. That just seemed too unlikely to me. Not that one might confess to her boss-but that she’d have no repercussions for doing so. Anyway, we learn about Mia through Sophie’s work files and then mostly through correspondence between Mia and Sophie themselves. Mia has spunk! She’s mad about this divorce and she’s ready to stand up for herself.
I thought the scope of characters that Rieger included in correspondence really filled out the book. We heard from other attorneys, from love interests, the parents of both Sophie and Mia and even some local news reports. I expected this was going to be only light fun chick-lit (not to knock chick lit) but I thought it was a much richer story than I expected in the end. I really wanted both Mia and Sophie to come out the other side of this unscathed, but more than that they both really grew as characters that I liked even more when the marriage was over. Rieger brought humor to what could have been a really painful and cruel story of divorce. Her characters came through with wit and class overall and made for an enjoyable read.
Thank you Blogging for Books for this copy in exchange for an honest review!