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REVIEW: The Divorce Papers – Susan RiegerThe Divorce Papers by Susan Rieger
Published by Crown Publishing on March 18, 2014
Genres: Contemporary Fiction
Pages: 480

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.

Debut novelist Susan Rieger doesn’t leave a word out of place in this hilarious and expertly crafted debut that shines with the power and pleasure of storytelling. Told through personal correspondence, office memos, emails, articles, and legal papers, this playful reinvention of the epistolary form races along with humor and heartache, exploring the complicated family dynamic that results when marriage fails. For Sophie, the whole affair sparks a hard look at her own relationships—not only with her parents, but with colleagues, friends, lovers, and most importantly, herself. Much like Where’d You Go, Bernadette, The Divorce Papers will have you laughing aloud and thanking the literature gods for this incredible, fresh new voice in fiction.

Stepping out of my comfort zone, I requested The Divorce Papers as the format (letters, memos and legal docs) was much different than I was used to reading (standard fiction novels). I’ve read two others that were similar in format (mainly e-mails) but more romcom and enjoyed those immensely so I figured “Why not?”.

I am not a lawyer. I think that’s probably obvious if you’ve read anything I’ve reviewed but one never knows. That being said, there were definitely some things that I didn’t understand (legal speak) but was able to do snippets of research or make best guesses with the rest of the content. As for the story…criminal lawyer asked to take on a divorce case and muddled her way through while not backing down. (Go Sophie!!) There were a handful of spots where I had to re-read thinking I missed something and a few of those I was unable to (for lack of a better phrase) fill-in. I’m not sure if it was the writing or just me not being able to make a connection there. Regardless, I pushed through and found the story to be intriguing. How much goes into a divorce, seemingly moreso when children and money are involved. I could be completely wrong in this regard as I’ve never been through a divorce, but the back and forth about the assets seemed to be a pain in the ass. Almost an argue just to argue kind of thing. Definitely added a bit to the story.

Below is Chapter One of The Divorce Papers. (How awesome is that? Crown Publishing rocks!) Give it a read and if it seems up your alley, scroll back up and click one of those little buy links! (Guys, don’t let the pink cover throw you off, it’s still a great read.)

The Divorce Papers by Susan Rieger – Adapted Excerpt by Crown Publishing Group