The Divorce Papers

The Divorce Papers

A Novel

eBook - 2014
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Witty and wonderful, sparkling and sophisticated, this debut romantic comedy brilliantly tells the story of one very messy, very high-profile divorce, and the endearingly cynical young lawyer dragooned into handling it. 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.
Publisher: New York :, Crown Publishers,, [2014]
Edition: Unabridged.
ISBN: 9780804137454
Characteristics: 1 online resource


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Aug 11, 2017

I'm not always a fan of books written entirely in letters, memos, emails, etc. from one character to another, but in my opinion, this one works really well. Sophie is a young lawyer, newly-graduated, who is asked to take on a divorce case, even though her interest and experience are all in criminal law. She's out of her depth, resentful at first, fearful of making mistakes, and sometimes very dependent upon the opinions of others - all of which makes her appealing and human. It's interesting to see how the needs and desires of all parties involved in the divorce evolve and change.... also, since I've been divorced myself and although Canadian law is a little different, I can definitely see parallels with my own experience. I found this book hard to put down.

ArapahoeKati Jun 28, 2017

Inventive and interesting but I grew tired of just how long this book is. So a "beach read" this is not but still worth a try if you like reading people's innermost thoughts as they get divorced.

Feb 16, 2017

Great offbeat epistolary style book on no-win scenario.
A year all sides rather forget.
Written even laypeople could understand.

Cynthia_N Jun 04, 2016

This book is composed of all the communications in the Durkheim divorce folder. This is the perfect format for this book. The author was able to keep in legal jargon in the form of paperwork and legal research but also able to put it in layman's terms in the form of emails and handwritten letters. It worked! I liked it!

Feb 27, 2015

Intelligent and entertaining.

Feb 04, 2015

The format of this debut novel by lawyer Susan Rieger is the hook. The story is about a wealthy couple in the fictional state of Narragansett going through a mildly nasty divorce. The format is all the correspondence involving the wife's lawyer, Sophie Diehl. It includes excerpts from relevant legislation, internal law firm memos, court submissions, and personal letters. The book also includes a few sub-plots in the form of personal e-mail messages and letters between Sophie and her friends and family members.

I know I've read novels that were presented as the narrator's memoir or diary. And I've read stories that included correspondence. But I can't recall a book that was entirely composed of letters, memos, and e-mails. It's set in 1999, when the World Wide Web was still sort of new, so the law firm still does much of its official writing as paper memos. E-mail is used more for informal communication. The wife tends to write letters by hand. The books uses a variety of fonts and "stationery" to set off the different pieces of writing.

Rieger does a good job of presenting a coherent narrative, but the book loses steam on a few counts. First, reading legal documents is not exciting. The legal lingo is kept to a minimum, but it's still like reading a will or real estate contract. There is no colour or intensity in the official correspondence. Second, most of the interesting action takes place off stage. Sophie has a romantic sub-plot, but her dates are all described in post-event e-mails to her best friend. We're getting the details second-hand, as it were. The wife and her soon-to-be ex-husband have a few fights, but we only learn about them a day or so after they happen (every single letter and e-mail is dated) when she describes them to Sophie. Third, the core divorce story isn't really that gripping. There's an attempt to add some suspense through unusual behaviour of the couple's 11-year-old daughter, but it never comes close to page-turning tension. There are a few sub-plots, including Sophie's love life, some law office politics, and Sophie's parental issues, but they're all fairly conventional.

It's implied that Sophie has gone through some personal growth, but it's hard to tell from her correspondence. In the end, this novel is skilfully constructed, but doesn't have much emotional pull.

Jul 04, 2014

An interesting case study of a divorce, particularly the legal and financial aspects. This might also have been a good novel, if the author had focused on the divorcing family. Instead, she stuffed the book with distracting sub-plots about the lawyer -- a twenty-something woman, struggling to come to grips with her family, office politics and boyfriend. Too bad. It didn't have to be chick-lit. .

BCD2013 May 06, 2014

A darkly comic epistolary novel stuffed with emails, letters, legal memos and handwritten notes follows a messy divorce through the eyes of young law associate Sophie Diehl, who represents the wife in the case, while simultaneously dealing with office politics and her own not-so-successful romantic life.

Mar 21, 2014

Loved it! Highbrow chick-lit. The feel of this book: a Bridget Jones type grows up, gets rich, gets dumped, gets bitter and wants revenge while her quirky, young lawyer cleans up the big mess despite problems and drama of her own. Told entirely through memos, legal articles, reports, letters and emails which makes it a fast, breezy, page-turner. A fun look at wealth and angst in New York.

Feb 27, 2014

This novel is not an ordinary read: it is composed entirely of emails, memos, law excerpts and letters. The unfolding of the story follows a couple getting a divorce, but the focus of the story is really on Sophie, a lawyer at the law firm that handles the divorce. I found that some of the case law excerpts were a bit boring, but as a whole I really liked the structure. It reminded me a bit of Where'd you go Bernadette. If you are addicted to The Good Wife, you will probably like it too.

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